It’s National Farm Safety and Health Week
The third week of September has been National Farm Safety and Health Week since 1944. The theme for this year is “Agricultural Safety & Health…A Family Affair”, and today is the ‘Day of the Child’ in National Farm Safety and Health Week.
I don’t know of any other occupation where the whole family lives right in the center of a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week workplace; this is the norm for agriculture. This workplace is full of dangers such as animals, tools, equipment and chemicals. In the US in 2009, 16,100 children and youth (under age 20) were injured on farms. While I was unable to find fatality numbers for that year, between 1995 and 2002, an average of 113 youths (less than 20 years of age) died from farm-related injuries per year. Don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones.
Young children on farms need safe, fenced play areas. This play area is NOT a substitute for adult supervision; the children need to be within sight and sound of a responsible adult or young adult. Young children are curious, they don’t always remember the rules, and they don’t realize the hazards around them. It is our job to keep them out of harm’s way.
Children all seem to be enamored with tractors and equipment, and they will ask to ride on the tractor. DON’T DO IT. Their brief disappointment is nothing compared to the lifetime of regret and angst you would feel if they were injured or killed on that ride.
As children grow up, they may want to start doing various chores on the farm. Each child’s growth and development is different. It’s impossible to say at “X” years old, a child can do “Y”. There are North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks; these are not based on age, but on the abilities of the child. Once you are at the website, type in the search box the chore to be done. Once you reach the page on that chore, review the “Adult Responsibilities” and “Main Hazards” to make sure that the work setting is safe and to understand how most injuries with this chore occur. Read through each question on the checklist to evaluate your child’s ability to do the chore and to learn your responsibilities in training and supervising the child doing the chore.
Lead by example. Always think safety. Make sure your family and employees have safety as their first priority too. Make sure that all tractors are equipped with ROPS, and wear the seatbelt with the ROPS. Make sure all PTO shafts are properly shielded and that the master shields are in good shape. Always wear a helmet when on the ATV and drive it safely at all times. Always wear a helmet while on a horse. Keep fences in good repair. The list can go on and on….. you get the picture.
This may be National Agricultural Safety and Health Week, but make safety and health a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week lifestyle.