It’s sad but true. Sometimes even those eyes in the back of your head aren’t enough to keep kids safe on the farm. You’re standing right beside them, watching, and then in what seems to be slow motion, they fall, they cut a hand or much worse. And you were supervising!
Supervision alone cannot prevent injuries to children on the farms. And children are still injured and killed on Canadian farms today.
Data from the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) program show 248 children and youth 14 and under, died in farm incidents between 1990 and 2008. That’s an average of 13 per year. Almost half of them were under five years old and eight out of 10 were boys.
Three-quarters of the children who died were related to the farm operator. A third were killed in a tractor incident. Four out of 10 were run over. Most were passengers. Some were bystanders.
Most of these incidents happen to children who are not involved in work. They’re sitting on someone’s knee on an old tractor or they’re standing just out of range of the machinery operator’s field of vision. Maybe they’re reaching into an animal pen or leaning too close to a saw.
Obviously these kids are not in a safe environment, even though they’re being supervised. In an active workplace such as the farm, you just can’t provide the very high level of supervision needed to protect young children.
So what do you do to keep your kids as safe as possible on the farm? You need to provide an environment free of as many hazards as possible — a supervised play area with a fence. And now’s the time to get the plans and build the play space before your kids or grandkids get out of school for the summer.
Download SafeKids Canada’s children’s farm safety fact sheet at www.safekidscanada.ca. There are lots of great tips on how to reduce the risk of injury to children on the farm.
On that same site, look for the pdf “Creating safe play areas on farms.” It provides a comprehensive guide for designing and building an outdoor safe play area on a farm.
If you farm in Manitoba, think about applying for a grant to help build a safe play area. Manitoba Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives and Manitoba Labour and Immigration are working together to provide funding to cover expenses up to the first $500. Find the details by searching for “farm safety grant” at www.gov.mb.ca or email [email protected] †