Rule reminder: Child safety on farm

Keeping children away from dangers at work isn’t a problem in most professions, but for those who live on farms and have children, extra awareness is paramount.

It can be acceptable for children to watch farm activities when:

  • The task itself is not inherently dangerous
  • The person doing the task is not the same as the person supervising the child
  • The child is kept in a safe place

Particular care should be taken around equipment and machinery, and no child under the age of 13 can legally accompany their parents across the farm in a tractor cab.

The NFU’s farm safety adviser, Tom Price says that farms may also need to carry out a risk assessment.

“The law requires that employers make sure their risk assessment for young people under the age of 18 takes full account of their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of relevant risks.

See also: Farm fined £10,000 after child loses leg

HSE rules and risks reminder

Machinery

  • No child under 13 may drive or ride on tractors and other self-propelled machines.
  • Before allowing over 13s to operate a tractor, conditions must be met which are set out in a free leaflet Preventing accidents to children on farms (PDF)

Children under 16 must not drive, operate, or help to operate: 

  • Towed or self-propelled harvesters or processing machines
  • Trailers or feed equipment with conveying, loading, unloading or spreading mechanisms
  • Power-driven machines with cutting, splitting, or crushing mechanisms or power-operated soil-engaging parts
  • Chemical applicators – mounted, trailed or knapsack sprayers
  • Handling equipment such as lift trucks, skid steer loaders or all-terrain vehicles
  • If you carry children or adults on trailers secure seating must be provided along with guard rails
  • You arrange safe mounting and dismounting
  • Children are supervised by a responsible adult.

If any machine is left unattended: 

  • Remove the keys
  • Lock the cab
  • Leave the controls in neutral
  • Lower foreloaders to the ground
  • Apply the parking brake or chock wheels.

Livestock

Check that children or other members of the public:

  • Cannot enter any yard or pen occupied by potentially dangerous animals.
  • Do not have access to or use any form of chemicals or veterinary medicines and products, for example, hypodermic syringes. Lock them away.
  • Do not look after animals or poultry without competent supervision.

Workplace

Make sure you exclude children from potentially dangerous areas, such as:

  • Chemical stores
  • Slurry pits and lagoons
  • Reservoirs or sheep dips
  • Grain intake pits and grain bins
  • Stacks of hay or straw