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: Safety campaign: ‘Working farms no place for children’

HSE rules and risks reminder


  • 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 should arrange safe mounting and dismounting and an adult must supervise

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.


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.


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

Farm safety checklist for parents

  • Have a safe and secure play area for young children
  • Prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock
  • Prevent all children under the age of 13 from riding on tractors and farm machinery
  • Restrict the use of the quad and provide suitable safety equipment
  • Secure all heavy wheels, gates, heavy equipment and stacked materials to prevent them from toppling over
  • Ensure your slurry lagoon is securely fenced to prevent children from gaining access and make sure tank covers are always in place
  • Always keep children well away when mixing slurry
  • Keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking
  • Keep chemicals locked in a secure store when not in use
  • Make sure that guards are in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery
  • Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency
  • Prepare a list of emergency contact telephone numbers