December Safety Tip: Children on the Farm

In 2006, about 22,900 children ages birth to 19 years were injured, who lived on, worked on, or visited farms in the United States, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Over 10,000 of these injuries happened to children between the ages of 10 and 15 years.

The good news is that you, as a parent or caregiver, can play a major role in preventing injuries on farms.

How do children get injured on farms?
The leading cause of fatal injury on farms is incidents involving farm machinery. While living on and visiting a farm can be a rewarding experience for children, they may also be exposed to serious hazards. Injuries can be caused by tractors and other machinery, chemicals, pesticides, and large animals.

Why are children at high risk for injuries on farms?
Children may be at greater risk for agricultural injuries because it is difficult to provide constant supervision on a farm. Children who live on farms may engage in work that is inappropriate for their age and developmental level.

What can I do to keep my child safe on farms?

  • Do not allow your child to wander alone on the farm. Create a fenced-in "safe play area" for your child to play in or near the house and away from work activities.
  • Assign age-appropriate tasks to your child if they are physically able to take part in farm work, ensuring they are properly trained and supervised at all times.
  • Follow manufacturers' recommendations for age restrictions when operating machinery and equipment (e.g., most manufacturers recommend that children younger than 16 not operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or machinery unless they have received formal training and are closely supervised).
  • If your teen has the appropriate strength, coordination, and motor skills to operate an ATV, be sure he or she wears appropriate safety equipment, such as a DOT-approved helmet with face protection, long sleeved shirt, long pants, non-skid boots, and gloves.
  • Always turn off farm equipment, lower hydraulics, and remove keys when equipment is not in use.
  • Teach your child and visitors on the farm that farm animals are not domestic pets.
  • Never carry your child while operating tractors, ATVs and other farm equipment or allow them to be in the equipment storage area, livestock barns, or grain bins.
  • Inspect the farm regularly for potential hazards and correct them immediately.
  • Keep your child away from objects and equipment they can climb, including windmills, electrical wires, augers, elevators, and grain wagons.