You’ve probably said to yourself — A farm is THE place to raise kids. All that open space and fresh air! Sure, a Canadian farm can be a great place to grow up, but in the 16 years between 1990 and 2005, 217 children lost their chance. Farms have plenty of fresh air, yes, but also giant machines, big animals, dangerous chemicals, deep dugouts, confined spaces and over-busy moms and dads.
Data from the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) show 217 agricultural fatalities among children and youth aged 14 and under — an average of 13 per year for the period 1990 to 2005. Tractors were involved in almost half of all agricultural fatalities among children. In most cases, the child who died was not operating the tractor. That’s totally unacceptable. Almost half of these children were under five years old and three out of four were boys.
Child fatalities on farms are preventable. Many more parents are supervising their preschoolers closely and constantly whenever they are outside the farm home and more often, they’re keeping their kids within safe, fenced-in play areas.
No preschooler should be permitted on the farm or ranch work site, which includes the farmyard and driveway where most bystander run-overs occur. According to the CAIR data, machine run-overs, drownings and machine rollovers were responsible for 68 per cent of all child fatalities.
So what else can be done, besides fenced-in play areas? More communities in Canada are organizing farm safety education for young people. One of the programs with proven results is Progressive Agriculture Safety Days for which the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) provides logistical support throughout the country. In 2011, PAF safety days are being held in 57 communities, involving more than 10,500 young people and about 2,500 adult volunteers.
For the first time, Cargill Limited has partnered with CASA to be the core supporter of seven Progressive Agriculture Safety Days in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Cargill’s investment is approximately $20,000 and comes with a commitment from Cargill employees to volunteer at their local Safety Day.
Other agricultural corporations also provide essential financial support to PAF Safety Days in North America. Thanks to: Bunge North America, Crop Production Services, Agrium, ConocoPhillips Canada, Alliance Pipeline, Westfield Industries/ Ag Growth International, Potash Corp, AGCO, Workplace Safety &Prevention Services and MacDon Industries Ltd.
If you’ve been thinking of “doing something” to improve safety awareness and teach safety skills, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days could be the package for you. But you must apply by July 15 this year for your community’s chance to host a safety day in 2012.
Once accepted, co-ordinators are trained and provided with training materials and ideas for involving the entire community in a day that can truly make a difference to the safety of your kids. Register at www.planfarmsafety.ca before July 15.