'Keep Children Safer' on our farms this summer

Date published: 28 July 2017

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on the farming community to keep children safer on the farm this summer.

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This follows a worrying recent trend in incidents, including fatalities, involving children on Northern Ireland farms. From 2004 to 2013, following significant efforts to reverse a previously dismal record, there was only 1 child fatality on our farms. From 2013 to date in 2017, tragically there have been 3 child deaths on our farms. Since the start of 2017 alone, HSENI have seen 1 child death and 2 very serious incidents on farms which could very easily have been fatalities.

Therefore it is important that we appeal to all of our farming community to look after children whilst on the farms and keep them safe from harm. As we all know 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.  

Urging farming families to take extra care this year, HSENI Chief Executive Keith Morrison said: “Children love farms. They love animals and 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 as well. 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, including children. 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.”

"Identifying the risks on your farm, knowing how to manage those risks and knowing where your children are is crucial in preventing future accidents and heartache."

As a parent there are a number of things you can do to help prevent your child having a farm accident, and HSENI has produced the following checklist to help you out:

  • 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: media@hseni.gov.uk

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. 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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