17 August 2001

KNOW ON-FARM risks TO KEEP your KIDS SAFe

Children taking part in the HSE Farm Safety Poster

Competition have shown an excellent grasp of the issues

in their creative artwork. But if children need to be aware of

danger on the farm, then it is doubly important that adults

take it seriously too, if accidents are to be avoided

AS YOU read this, do you know exactly where your children are playing?

Are they in the yard – where tractors, delivery lorries, even the postman could so unwittingly back onto a child intent on driving his own model tractor or toy cars on the ground?

Are they helping daddy on the tractor? Nearly 30% of deaths occur because children are being carried on tractors – despite the fact that it has been illegal to carry children under 13 on tractors and most other farm machines since 1957.

Kids are fascinated by machinery – it is up to the parents to be sensible and keep them off it – in any other workplace it would be unthinkable to take kids along "for the ride". You probably rode on them without harm when you were young – but is it worth taking a risk with your own lovely children?

Are they roaming the farm unsupervised? Its not enough that they have been told to keep away from the grain pit, slurry lagoon or reservoir – each one needs to be secured against inquisitive children for it is in places such as these that youngsters drown – accounting for 20% of child fatalities.

Are they climbing or exploring? Keep things tidy and in good repair. Falls and falling objects such as unsecured gates or wheels result in a further 20% of deaths – each one a beloved person before becoming a statistic.

In the past 10 years, 44 children have been killed on farms in the UK and many, many more injured.

The school summer holidays, when children have their friends round to play or young visitors are staying in farm holiday accommodation, come at a particularly busy time in the countryside. Dont take chances with their safety, keep them away from livestock and review your surroundings.

Be aware of potential dangers. Then do something about them, now, and avoid having to say "If only…" Tessa Gates