The importance of safety is illustrated by these tragic but true stories of Iowa farm youth. Farm injuries that involve children may seem unpredictable, stealing young lives at random, in situations that could not have been avoided. However, most farm injuries can be prevented. In these cases, the child acted in a way that was consistent with his or her developmental ability, and was hurt or killed because of it.
In Iowa, farm-related injuries every year claim young lives or leave youth with lifelong disabilities. For all ages, more than half of the injuries were work-related. In the 16-19 year category, more than three-fourths occurred during chores.
Causes vary with the child’s age. Reports have shown that two main causes of injuries were from farm animals or livestock and machinery. A close third cause of injuries were falls or slips.
One publication cannot address the causes and cures for all farm-related injuries. However, it can offer some general guidelines for adults to use when providing careful supervision, assigning chores, and teaching about safety in ways that are appropriate for the youth’s age and abilities.
Youth safety: How much do you know?
See answers at the end of document.
As all children grow, they pass through a series of developmental stages. Physical changes are obvious, as a child grows taller and stronger. Mental and emotional changes are difficult to detect unless adults understand characteristics of each stage.
Most injuries occur when a child is doing something that is beyond his or her mental, physical, or emotional ability. For example, two-year-olds may be barely able to talk but are active learners eager to explore their sensory world. If they see someone hide a colorful bottle in a cabinet, they will do their best to get at it, open the bottle, and taste its contents; even if they have been warned and even if it tastes terrible. Preschool children are not developmentally ready to understand cause and effect relationships. They need physical barriers such as fences, gates, and locks to keep them away from danger.
On the other hand, teen-aged youth are mentally equipped to understand that risky behavior often has unpleasant consequences. However, they often are driven to ignore common sense to satisfy the emotional need for experimentation or excitement, typical of that age.
A 16-year-old who drives her father’s truck too fast on a gravel road probably knows the speed limit. She probably remembers her parents’ warnings. But she’s speeding because she wants to, perhaps to provide thrills for lack of anything else to do. Parents of teen-aged youth must acknowledge their psychological needs and provide safe challenges such as sports, activities with other youth their age, and new experiences.
Below is a chart with common characteristics of youth at different stages. Typical risks on Iowa farms are listed, plus suggestions for action.
Farm youth spend most of their waking hours in one of the nation’s most dangerous workplaces, agriculture. They routinely encounter hazards in farm chores. They must know what to do during busy seasons when adult family members may be preoccupied with other tasks. By understanding the stages of a child’s growth and development, adults can help protect farm youth from needless harm.
|Ages and stages||Characteristics||Cause of most farm injuries||Suggestions|
|Toddler/preschool (0-5 years)||
|Early school (5-9 years)||
|Older school (10-13 years)||
|Adolescence (13-16 years)||
|Young adult (16-18 years)||
Adapted with permission from Is Your Child Protected from Injury on the Farm? , copyrighted by the Minnesota Extension Service, 1993, AG-FO-6068B.
Youth safety: What can you do?
You can avoid some of the risks of agriculture and protect family members by becoming aware of safety and following these steps:
For more information
Answers to quiz: 1-False; 2-b; 3-b; 4-False; 5-True
Publication #: PM 1518I
No endorsement of products or firms is intended, nor is criticism implied of those not mentioned.
Safe Farm is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach project helping to make Iowa farms a safer place to work and live.
For more safety information, check the web at www.abe.iastate.edu.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More