Children living and growing up in the farm workplace continue
to be exposed to hazards that can lead to serious injury or
death. Approximately 20% of fatalities on Ontario farms involving
farm work are children under the age of fifteen. Many of these
children were not performing work duties but were merely in
the workplace for various reasons. On a farm, powerful machinery,
tools, chemicals, confined spaces, ponds, animals and motor
vehicles are some of the potential hazards. Most serious injuries
suffered by farm children and adults involve machinery.
need to create "hazard-free" play areas to protect their children.
A farm cannot be considered a giant playground. Boundaries
and limits need to be set for such play areas. View your farm
from your child's perspective. Get down on their level and
look up, down and all around. In many cases children will
be performing various work related tasks when they reach an
appropriate age. In these cases stick adult supervision is
Farm parents can take these precautions to prevent children
from getting hurt on the farm:
- Find out what the developmental characteristics of
children are at specific ages. Child development guidelines
are available that give abilities of children at different
ages. These characteristics help to identify typical risks.
- Identify the dangerous areas on your farm. Determine
where kids are most likely to get hurt on the farm. Determine
what draws children to dangerous situations. An example:
Toddlers are especially at risk to pesticide poisoning because
of their curiosity, tendency to put things into their mouths,
inability to read labels, and budding independence.
- Set up appropriate rules for children to follow.
Remember that very young children cannot understand the
concept of rules but as children grow they begin to understand
the reasons for guidelines and the consequences for not
following them. Be consistent in enforcement of rules.
- Supervise children according to their age. Very
young children need constant supervision. Children must
prove they are capable of following the farm rules before
they are allowed to perform farm tasks.
Children should have a place to play where they are protected
from the daily hazards of farm life. This area should be away
from the driveway and buildings.
Everyone on the farm should know where this area is and make
sure the children use it. The area should be free of broken
and unsafe equipment. Make it a place children will enjoy
and use. Areas could include a sand box, swing set, backyard
or porch. Know where your kids are at all times!
love animals, but animals don't always love children. Children
need to be taught how to handle and work around animals to
lessen potential hazards.
pets can be as dangerous as farm animals. Respect for all
animals should be one of the first things taught to young
children. Keep livestock in the appropriate pens or fenced
need to be aware of their location so they do not end up behind
an animal and get stepped on or kicked. Running or screaming
around animals can cause the animal to become spooked, which
could lead to an injury.
also need to be warned to stay away from any farm animal
with its young. A new mother can quickly turn on a child
if she feels her young are threatened.
around animals encourage your children to:
calm, move slowly, and avoid loud noises Wear steel-toed
shoes. Avoid the hind legs of the animal.
large animals at the shoulder. Children should avoid handling
stallions, bulls, rams, and boars. Always have an escape
route when working with animals in close quarters Wear helmets
when riding horses
- Buildings of any kind pose hazards for children. Be aware
of potential hazards in the various buildings on the farm
and take measures to lessen them.
- Lock up chemicals and dispose of containers properly,
put ladders out of reach and do not lean heavy objects against
- Good housekeeping is the first step in safety. Inspect
your farm for objects, which could fall and injure a child.
Example: tractor tires leaning against the barn could prove
Test your garage door opener. Use a two-inch thick piece of
wood at the bottom and close the door. If the door does not
reverse, disengage it and fix or replace the opener as soon
Safety starts with adults. Children will imitate adult behavior
whether it's safe or not. Make sure proper safety procedures
become a part of everyday life.
- Wear seat belts when driving, and fasten small children
in approved child safety seats in your vehicles. Wear a
helmet when riding an all terrain vehicle (ATV).
- Children should not operate machinery until they are
completely trained. This includes lawn mowers and ATV's.
Once trained, make sure children always follow safety rules.
- Make sure the size of the ATV fits the child. Get your
child into the habit of wearing a helmet, long pants, eye
protection, gloves and boots when riding an ATV.
- Children are fascinated with big vehicles. Big vehicles
can lead to accidents due to visibility problems. Do not
allow children to ride or play on tractors or other pieces
of farm machinery. Adults need to take certain precautions
if an unsupervised child plays on equipment.
- Remove the ignition keys from parked equipment and lock
- Front-end loaders, buckets or other such equipment that
might fall should be left in the down position.
- When parked, self-propelled machinery should be locked
and dangerous machinery components should be kept out of
reach of children. Disengage your tractor's Power Takeoff
(PTO) when idle or not in use.
- Children should be taught where and how to turn off all
farm machinery. If a person becomes entangled, a child could
save his/her life by turning off the equipment and then
- Children love to play with plants in the yard. Children
need to know outdoor plants may be played with but not eaten.
Pick and dispose of mushrooms in the yard. Explain to children
they are not the same as those purchased in the grocery
store and should never be eaten.
- Gardening is often a family activity. Store seeds and
bulbs out of reach of children until they are to be used.
When fruits and vegetables are ready to be harvested, pick
them with the children.
- Children may confuse good food with food that is harmful.
Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, and
teach children to do the same.
There may be water hazards on the farm. Never leave small children
unsupervised in or near water, including ponds, swimming pools
and stock watering tanks. If possible, it is a good idea for
children to take swimming lessons. This does not alleviate the
need for supervision, but gives children more confidence around
water. Be sure to secure wellhead covers, dug wells and abandoned
- There are ways to keep these deadly hazards out of the
hands of children.
- Always store foods and household cleaning products separately.
- Make certain that foods cannot be mistaken for household
cleaning products. Keep all products in their original containers.
- Never transfer poisonous products to other containers,
such as jars or bottles.
- Purchase products packaged in childproof containers.
After using these poisonous products, immediately return
them to their storage area. It is a good idea to keep them
locked up. Child-resistant safety latches can be put on
doors and cabinets to keep little hands out of them.
- Poisonous gases can harm children in the home. Make sure
kerosene and oil-burning heaters are properly working. Carbon
monoxide (CO) is an odorless, deadly gas emitted by these
heaters if they are not working correctly.
To prevent accidental exposure to chemicals follow these guidelines:
- Always keep pesticides in locked storage and in their
original, labeled container. This is one of the most important
safety rules. Chemicals found in the home include household
cleaners, insect sprays, kerosene, lighter fluid, furniture
polishers, turpentine, paints, solvents, products containing
lye and acids, and pet shampoos and treatments.
- Instruct children about warning signs and items that
they are suppose to stay away from. Be a good role model
when using chemicals by using proper protective clothing.
Discard all empty chemical containers and measuring utensils
- Remove children and toys from the area when applying
- Keep the telephone number of the poison control center
close to the phone and instruct children about proper emergency
- Wash chemical-soiled clothing separate from the rest
of the laundry.
- If interrupted while working with chemicals, close all
containers and put out of reach of children.
Farm chemicals are not for use by children or youth.
Children by nature will eat and drink almost anything. The best
way to help your child is to know what to do.
Children act fast; so do poisons.
- One of the first things you should do is post your local
Poison Control Center phone number near all telephones.
Also post the telephone numbers for the ambulance, local
or closest hospital, and your family physician. Make family
members aware of them.
- If a poisoning occurs, try to determine the poison taken
and part of the body affected before you take action. Remember,
taking the right action is as important as taking immediate
- Read the "Statement of Treatment" on the product involved
in the poisoning and administer the suggested initial first
- Take all children on a tour of the farm and point out
- Take young worker's physical and mental development into
account when assigning jobs.
- Each task has its hazards, and children should be taught
to avoid them. Teach them how to do the job safely and watch
them do it.
- Provide needed protective equipment.
- Do not assign a youngster a job better suited to adult
Tasks that are appropriate for children include:
- Preschool: household clean up, watering
plants, feeding small animals.
- Age 6-11: hand tools are appropriate- not
power tools, feeding animals, (under supervision) weeding,
watering and picking; lawn mowing with a push mower on a
flat surface, hand raking and digging.
- Ages 12-14: limited power tools under supervision
- Age 15-18: can start to do adult jobs under
- Firearms and ammunition need to be stored where children
cannot reach them.
- Never store loaded guns.
- Store ammunition in a locked place, separate from the
- Use locks on the firearms that children can't operate,
and store firearms inside a locked cabinet.
- Children need to be taught electrical safety, and as
a role model parents need to use electricity wisely.
- Keep faceplates on switches and outlets. Keep electrical
panels free of dust and debris.
- Keep electrical panels covered to reduce shock and fire
- Use properly maintained tools and equipment that is double
insulated. Don't use electrical tools around water.
- Equip the shop area with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
and use 3-prong grounding plugs.
- Use undamaged electrical cords and don't carry tools
by their cords.
- Grip the plug, not the cord, to unplug a tool.
- Switch off and unplug a tool before you change parts
or clean it, or if it begins to smoke or burn.
- Instruct children in proper behavior around and respect
- It is essential that children know that they should not
enter a silo or grain bin to rescue another person.
If someone is caught in one of these structures and a child
enters, then they too can become trapped. The child does need
to know how to turn off an operating auger and turn on a fan,
if one is present, and then get assistance.
The following are a few rules you may want to implement to prevent
your farm family from becoming a tragic statistic due to grain
- Mark all potentially dangerous areas, such as grain bins,
wagons and trucks, with decals or brightly colored markers.
Children need to learn to recognize danger
- Always lock accesses doors to grain storage structures.
- Lock out power to all types of grain-handling equipment.
- Always use the buddy system when you are unloading or
loading grain, notifying a second person where you are.
- Never permit children to ride in grain wagons or enter
grain storage areas.
- Always know where all family members are (especially
children) at all times when grain is being loaded, unloaded,
moved or otherwise handled.
To prevent exposure to the dangers of manure gas everyone in
the family should follow these rules:
- Never enter a manure pit. Label manure pits and manure
storage areas to warn of the hazards.
- Never enter a building when manure is being agitated
(mixed) for removal.
- Always use maximum building ventilation during manure
agitation. Be sure manure pit covers are secure and in good
repair. Be sure all lagoons are adequately fenced
- Obtain and use monitoring equipment to determine the
level of gases present.
IS RECOMMENDED THAT ALL FAMILY MEMBERS TAKE A FIRST-AID
often it is a family member who is the first on the
scene of a farm accident. If this person knows how to
properly respond to the emergency situation it could
mean the difference between life and death. Therefore,
any time spent learning first aid is time well spent.
- Appropriate footwear (boots or shoes without long laces),
jeans, long sleeve shirt and hat are recommended.
- Don't get burned! One serious childhood or adolescent
sunburn doubles the chances of developing skin cancer.
The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The information and recommendations contained in this publication
are believed to be reliable and representative of contemporary
expert opinion on the subject material. The Farm Safety Association
Inc. does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of
subject material, nor can it accept responsibility for health
and safety recommendations that may have been omitted due to
particular and exceptional conditions and circumstances.
© 2002 Farm Safety Association Inc.
22-340 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph, Ontario (519) 823-5600.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
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