Coronavirus: Guide to help children keep safe on farms

Two new safety guides could come in handy for farmers who are keeping children away from school because of coronavirus.

Although food producers are classed as key workers – which means children can still attend school – the government says they should be kept at home if at all possible.

See also: Rule reminder: Child safety on the farm

The Farm Safety Foundation said school closures meant there must be a clear focus on supporting rural young people who would be spending longer time on family farms.

Farming continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK – and two children were among the 39 people killed on farms last year, it said.

The foundation is continuing to deliver safety messages to children and has written two new farm safety guides – one for agricultural students and one for parents.

The guides have been sent to all rural primary schools, land-based colleges, universities and national young farmers’ clubs to be shared with their pupils, students and members.

Foundation manager Stephanie Berkeley said it would also be using social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to share farm safety reminders over the coming weeks.

She added: “The fact is, with the closure of schools, there will be more children spending time on farm for longer periods than ever before.

Easy to read

“We thought it would be a good idea to put together a simple, easy-to-read booklet to remind everyone of the risks they will face on the farm every day.

“We don’t know how long this situation will last and our wonderful NHS workers are already feeling the strain of dealing with the spread of Covid-19.

“We need to take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones and not risk any of us having a farm accident that will add to a workforce already under pressure.

“They are working hard to keep us safe so the least we can do is farm safe for them.”

Similar measures are in place in Ireland.

Irish Farmers’ Association president Tim Cullinan said: “We are seeing the very best of the Irish farm family model at work during this crisis to keep the food supply chain moving.

“However, this also increases the need for total vigilance regarding farm safety.

Pay attention

He added: “Children are spending more time at home and farmers must pay particular attention and ensure children are aware of the dangers on the farm and are supervised at all times.

“This is particularly true for farmers who still have cows to calve.”

Farmers could be wonderful places, but could also be dangerous places where the unthinkable could happen in a matter of seconds, said Mr Cullinan.

“Children are expected to be at home for an extended period of time, with social isolation meaning their activity outlets are curtailed. Farm families must plan for this.”

IFA national farm family chairwoman Caroline Farrell urged parents to visit the association’s website, which contains a number of resources on farm safety.

“If a farmer has difficulty accessing the internet, they can contact their local office and request information be posted to them,” she said.

For more information on the Farm Safety Foundation please visit www.yellowwellies.org.

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