Farmers are being encouraged to keep children safe on farms over the school holidays with a heightened risk of accidents on farms.
Accidents involving children on the farm peak over December and January, accounting for more than 22% of injuries to those aged 15 years and under. Between the years 2013-2015, 7 children died as a result of an accident on a farm.
WorkSafe’s sector leader Agriculture Al McCone says, “We do not want to stop children having fun on the farm or helping out mum and dad with jobs however farmers are responsible for ensuring children are not put at risk.
Farms come with big machines, big animals and big pressures. Children and their parents need to be aware of the risks farms present and work to manage those risks.
The younger the child, the less risk averse they are, and the more attention needs to be paid by parents or carers.”
Many risks can easily be managed by, for example, using vehicles suitable for passengers, fencing artificial ponds, covering pits, or even creating ‘safe kid zones’ in dairy sheds, or working together with neighbours as farmers have always done.
Parents or carers should lock doors to stop children getting into areas they shouldn’t and remove keys from vehicles children aren’t to drive.
McCone says, “Over recent years, of the 14 deaths of children under the age of ten, seven involved the child being near the parents working. If you’re used to working alone, and get stuck on a job or problem, then it’s easy to forget about the kids.”
All three deaths involving children aged between five and 15 since 2013 involved a child operating a quadbike.
“Kids love playing around vehicles like the quad bike or the tractor so walk around the vehicle first and check children are a safe distance away before starting the engine. A few seconds extra care will prevent what could be a tragedy.”
Quad bike riders under 16 years are 2.5 times more likely to be injured compared to drivers aged 16–34 years old. Although those aged under 16 years old represent just 16% of users, they account for between 37%-50% of all injuries.”
For plenty of useful tips and guidance on keeping children safe, go to www.saferfarms.org.nz.