Child Safety on Farms Week 2017

Date published: 05 June 2017

During Child Safety on Farms Week (5 to 9 June) the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on the farming community to keep children safe on the farm this summer.

Child Safety on Farms Week 2017

Summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about more when work activity is running at a very high level - often with contractors on-site operating potentially dangerous vehicles and machinery.

Tragically, since the year 2000 twelve children have lost their lives due to farm accidents, including a four year old boy who lost his life in an accident on a farm earlier this year.

Child Safety on Farms Week is part of the ongoing Child Safety on Farms campaign organised by HSENI and supported by the members of the Farm Safety Partnership.

The campaign aims to eradicate fatal and serious accidents through an extensive education and outreach programme which includes a programme of planned school visits throughout Northern Ireland. This involves HSENI inspectors visiting rural primary schools to deliver interactive workshops about farm safety and this year more than 80 schools and 8,000 pupils have been visited.

To help promote safety for children on farms a free app called ‘Farm Secure’ is available for Android and IOS devices. Developed by students at the University of Ulster’s School of Nursing and sponsored by the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), the app is aimed at key stage 1 pupils in P1 to P3 and features videos and an interactive quiz.

Urging farming families to take extra care this year, HSENI Chief Executive Keith Morrison said: “Children love farms. They love animals, they love machinery, they love climbing on things, and they love helping out parents and grandparents. But as we know all too well, farms are very dangerous places and the unthinkable can happen in just a few seconds. Precautions must be taken to keep children safe at all times.

It is vitally important to educate children about safety on the farm so that they are aware of potential dangers and learn how to avoid them. I am urging all parents to make safety a priority today. Please talk about safety as a family and put in place simple measures now so that your family have a happy and safe summer on the farm.

The farm SAFE (Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment) message applies to everyone on the farm. Please make sure children are kept well away from livestock, harmful substances, falling objects, slurry gas and slurry tanks, and moving vehicles such as tractors, quad bikes or harvesters.”

President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Barclay Bell added: “Children need to know that farms can be dangerous playgrounds and we as parents must take practical steps to help prevent accidents. This could be by adding a securely fenced play area for young children or by making sure your children are always kept out of the farmyard and fields unless under the close and direct supervision of a responsible adult.

“Remember, if your children are old enough, it’s good to talk to them about farm safety so that they learn how to keep themselves safe.”

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

For media enquires please contact: HSENI Press Office on: 028 9024 3249 or email:

For out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number: 076 2397 4383 and your call will be returned.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The ‘Be Aware Kids – child safety on farms’ campaign is the largest initiative in NI to engage with children on the issue of farm safety. The programme has been running since 1999 and is extremely well known in the farming industry. This initiative includes the annual Child Safety on Farms Poster Competition, which has been running since 2003. The deadline for this year’s entries is the 30 June and judging will take place in July. More than 40,000 ‘2017’ calendars featuring winning entries to the poster competition were distributed to 419 rural primary schools across Northern Ireland.
  2. The Farm Safety Partnership comprises the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU Mutual (NFUM), the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA). It is tasked with assisting Northern Ireland’s farming community to work safely and tackle the problem of work-related fatalities and injuries on farms.
  3. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy (DfE).
  4. HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.

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