Have You Developed a Farm Safety Checklist for Your Farm?
A farm can be an appealing place to live, work or visit, but it can also be dangerous, particularly for youngsters. This includes your own children, young visitors, and minor-aged employees.
As an industry, agriculture can be among the most dangerous, yet farms are also the only worksite in America where children of any age are allowed. Some sobering statistics from CultivateSaftety spotlight the issue:
- Since 2009, more youth worker fatalities are attributed to agriculture than all other industries combined.
- About 33 children suffer serious injury in ag-related accidents every day.
- 60% of children’s ag-related injuries happen when they aren’t working.
Helping youth develop an awareness and respect for the inherent dangers around them is key to their ultimate safety, and this can start with a farm safety checklist specifically for youth.
What Belongs on a Farm Safety Checklist?
Like adults, children can face many hazards on a farm. CultivateSafety says the top three causes of farm fatalities in youth are machinery, motor vehicles and drowning, while the top three non-fatal injuries are from falls, animals, and machinery or vehicles, like ATVs. While you should tailor your checklist to your unique operations, here’s a general rundown of top considerations.
- No-go zones: Identify those areas of the farm where children should not go without adult supervision. This includes grain bins, silos, ponds, marshes, animal pastures, and elevated areas without railings.
- Safety attire: The appropriate clothes can help minimize or avoid injuries. Jeans, coveralls, long-sleeved shirts, and gloves can shield skin from scratches, cuts, and chemical burns. Sturdy boots and closed-toe shoes can keep feet safe from machinery and animals. Safety glasses and earplugs should be worn around equipment by everyone, not just the operator, and helmets should be mandatory with ATVs and motorbikes.
- Animal safety: Children should learn basic animal behavior and be taught to avoid making startling noises or actions that might frighten animals and cause biting, rearing, stomping, stampeding or defensive attacks. Animals that are sick or injured require extra caution, as do animals most prone to kicking and biting, such as cattle, horses, llamas, sheep, and other large animals.
- Vehicle safety:Forty percent of accidental farm deaths in children under age 15 are caused by tractors, CultivateSafety reports. While riding can be fun for kids, it may be wise to keep them off equipment unless it’s turned off. If you do permit youth operation of vehicles, require helmets for all ATV riders and passengers and restrict use of dangerous equipment, like skid steers and PTO (power take-off) machinery, to older youth who have received the proper training.
- Farm buildings: Youth under the age of 16 should be monitored at all times by an adult, especially while around the mechanical and electrical equipment found inside farm buildings. A safety checklist can include:
- Regular review of buildings to look for poor lighting or trip-and-fall hazards
- How and when to turn lights and equipment on and off
- How to safely store equipment and tools
- Where to find fire extinguishers
- Proper sanitation and cleaning
- How to report a hazard
Resources for Building Your Farm Safety Checklist
The OSHA Youth in Agricultural eTool and CultivateSafety are great places to start learning about farm safety so you can create a checklist that matches your farm operations. On the internet you can find:
- Guidelines for assigning tasks based on worker ability
- Resources for creating safe play areas on farms
- Safe agritourism resources, guidelines, checklists, and signs
Review your checklist with anyone working on your farm, young or old. Train the youth who live, work or visit your farm. Practice and review the checklist regularly. Give them lots of positive feedback when you catch them following through, and always lead by example.
Westfield Insurance Can Help
The great news is you can also get the backing of quality farm insurance so, if there is an incident, you have the financial support you need. Talk to a Westfield Insurance agent to protect your farm or agricultural business.