How Safe are Children on Farms?
By Ann Mesman, Cargill Safety Champion [email protected]
When I was young a neighbor lost a child in an unfortunate accident with a tractor, and I never want to see anyone experience that level of loss again, which is why I’m passionate about safety and proud to be a safety champion within Cargill.
According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety about 38 children are injured every day in an ag-related incident, and about every 3 days one of those incidents is fatal. Data from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health notes the three leading sources of fatal injuries are machinery (including tractors), motor vehicles (including ATVs), and drowning.
When your work is your way of life, it can be easy to overlook the dangers around you on a daily basis. While hazards on the farm are constant, most farm injuries and death occur during the busy months of June – August, when most children are out of school.
Protecting the safety of everyone on the farm requires constant vigilance. By being aware of the 3 main danger areas, and utilizing these helpful tips, you can help prevent unnecessary loss.
1. Equipment: Being entangled, rolled/ran over, or crushed by a large piece of machinery is the leading cause of death and injury on agriculture operations. Limit the risks by:
- Never allowing extra riders, especially children who can be easily thrown out by bumps
- Never assuming a driver sees you
- Teaching children to maintain safe distances, regardless if equipment is on or off
- Heeding equipment warnings and following safe operating protocols
2. Falling: Ag work often requires climbing on top of machinery, bins, silos and buildings and falling as little as 3 feet can cause injury, while 12 feet can kill. Limit the risks by:
- Carefully maintaining ladders and safety cages
- Properly positioning and spotting portable ladders
- Utilizing fall harnesses when appropriate
3. Drowning/Suffocation: Manure lagoons, ponds, and wells are common sites for on-farm drowning. Fencing these areas off can help keep kids from falling in.
Silage and grain piles can collapse quickly, and without warning. The gases they produce can also cause drowsiness, unconsciousness and even death. Limit the risks by:
Upright silos: Bunker silos:
- Ventilating silos before entering - Limiting height to what equipment can deface
- Always having a second person nearby - Cut vertical face with a 10 degree tilt away
Ask your Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant for more information on safety audits, safety signs, tips and tools to help keep everyone safe on your farm, especially children.