With schools closed, more children will be staying at home on the farms and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding farmers that children should be kept safely away from any work activities.
HSE is working with other government departments as part of the national response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and, although many agricultural workers are in the ‘essential key workers’ list so their children can go to school, many will be at home for longer periods.
Farmers must also take note of government advice on self-isolation and social distancing and apply this on their farm.
What you need to know:
- Keep children out of work areas, play areas should be secure and away from the work area
- If children are in a work area, they must be closely supervised by an adult who isn’t involved in any work
- Children under the age of 13 years are specifically prohibited from driving or riding on any agricultural machine
- Keep children out of pens, out of handling facilities and well away when animals are being moved or handled.
Every year children are killed or seriously injured during agricultural work activities, most of which are family members. Last year, two children (both aged 3) were killed on farms in incidents that could have been prevented.
HSE’s acting Head of Agriculture, Adrian Hodkinson, said: “We should always separate our work life from our home life and farming should be no different to any other job. Farms are full of hazards – vehicles and other machines, large animals, deep lagoons, a variety of chemicals and hazardous dusts – they are not a place for children, unless risk is very carefully managed.
“Not only would causing harm to a child be devastating for the family, part of the reason we must stay home during the coronavirus pandemic is to protect the NHS and avoid burdening services with injuries and issues that are avoidable. Farm work should stop immediately if an unsupervised child appears in any work area.”
HSE has a range of resources and guides available to help those working on farms to manage risks appropriately. More information about keeping children safe on the farm can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture