In light of the latest Covid-19 guidelines set out by the government, we are aware that the majority of people are restricted to their home and surrounding areas. However, with children off school, some families are using the farmyard and fields as an exercise outlet.
April is also an extremely busy time on farms as a lot of work needs to be done with machinery and livestock. Extra farm safety vigilance is required when children are around the farm as there is a higher risk of accidents.
Farms remain one of only workplaces in Ireland where children continue to fall victim to fatalities. In the last decade, 17 of 21 child deaths on a farms has resulted from accidents with machinery.
At this time, we would encourage farmers and farm workers to identify any potential dangers on the farm, be attentive and observant, and limit time children spend in the farmyard and surrounding fields. It is also important for farming households and neighbours of farms to adhere to the safety guidelines outlined below.
Supervise children: When on a farm, a child should be supervised by an adult at all times. Set farm rules and remind children in advance of going to the farm. Ensure they know all the risks and dangers involved.
Work areas should be off limits: Put warning signs up in all restricted and busy areas on the farm, explain to children that these signs mean off limits. Farmers could consider off a safe play area.
Keep children away from machinery and tractors: Make sure children are kept at a safe distance from all machinery and transport in use. Lock unattended tractors, always remove keys from door and always keep the keys out of sight. Keep watch when machinery is on for children passing because you can never be too careful.
Keep children at a safe distance from livestock: Animals can feel threatened and provoked if a child frightens the animal accidentally. Animals guarding their young may be more aggressive than usual. Ensure that children are kept at a safe distance.
Keep poisons locked up: Keep all pesticides, cleaning fluids, veterinary medicines and equipment in their original containers and in a securely locked store.
Always try to prevent falls: Stop access to enclosed pens and to areas of height. Many serious injuries happen after a fall from a height or after a person has been hit by falling or moving objects, such as gates, building materials and bales. To prevent falls keep all buildings, walls and fences in a good safe condition. Always secure gates and doors.
Prevent drowning: Supervise children at all times when going near water. Securely cover or fence off all slurry facilities, wells, tanks and lagoons.
Prevent the spread of infectious disease: Bacteria can be passed easily on the farm. Ensure your children and you have washed your hands after being outside, after dealing with things on the farm, before cooking, before eating etc.
It is important to note that a farmyard is not a playground. To prevent accidents from happening on the farm and to keep your mind at ease, consider creating a secure play area for children to get their daily exercise.
We encourage families to adhere to the public safety guidelines, try to limit social interactions and instruct children to keep a strict 2 metre physical distance from neighbours they might meet. A full list of guidelines can be found on www.gov.ie.
As Summer months are approaching, we would recommend for farmers to take the time to check their farms for and potential danger zones and implement any necessary safety requirements. Additional details of farm safety can be found on https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmsafety/.