Farm Safety Week: The onus is on us to make sure kids are safe

Farmers and contractors have been warned that the onus is on them to ensure children are kept safe on farms.

The message comes ahead of this year’s Farm Safety Week, which runs from July 19-23, 2021.

Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson reminded farmers that with the summer holidays now underway, more children will be on farms.

‘It shouldn’t be a given that accident rates will rise’

He explained: “The school holidays have arrived. The coming weeks will see children wanting to get out and explore their farms at a time when large machinery items such as tractors, slurry tankers, silage harvesters and trailers will be working long hours.

“Under these circumstances, the risk of an accident taking place increases.

Additionally, livestock of all ages constitute a danger to children. This is particularly so if cows are grazing with young calves. The potential dangers associated with bulls are acute for people of all ages.

“This is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers across Northern Ireland. But it shouldn’t be taken as a given that farm accident rates will rise in a commensurate fashion.”

‘Mitigating the risk’

“Every farm accident can be avoided,” Stevenson said. “The onus is on farmers and contactors to think through the potential impact of every action before they undertake any piece of work.

“Risks can be mitigated by ensuring that heavy items are properly stacked and secured, by keeping gates to lagoons and slurry tank covers closed when not in use and by knowing where children are at when work with livestock or machinery is taking place on the farm.

“Children, by their very nature, are most exposed to the risk of an accident taking place at this time of the year.

School learning may have stopped for the summer but children on farms continue to learn so much more about their surroundings and farming heritage.

“This is excellent learning for our future farmers and leaders but the onus must be on keeping them safe at all times when out and about on farms across Northern Ireland.”

Farm Safety Week

Farm Safety Week is run each year, in the third week of July, to raise awareness of farm safety issues in rural communities.

In Northern Ireland, it is led by the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), which LMC is an affiliate member of.

LMC, which oversees the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance scheme, has a long track record of promoting the highest possible safety standards on local farms.