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Farms are dangerous places for children during lockdown, farming families warned

The HSE has warned farmers to keep their children safe if they are staying at home on the family farm during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The HSE has warned farmers to keep their children safe if they are staying at home on the family farm during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Farmers have been warned to keep their children safe while they stay at home on the family farm during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says many children are killed or seriously injured during agricultural work, most of which are family members. Last year, two three-year-olds were killed on farms in preventable accidents.

Although many agricultural workers are on the “essential key workers” list so their children can go to school, many youngsters will be spending more time at home on family farms – so safety experts are warning farmers to keep children away from any work activities. HSE advice includes:

• 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 is not involved in any work.

• Children under the age of 13 are specifically prohibited from driving or riding on any agricultural machine.

• Keep children out of livestock pens, out of handling facilities and well away when animals are being moved or handled.

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Adrian Hodkinson, the HSE’s acting head of agriculture, 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.”

The HSE says farmers must also take note of government advice on self-isolation and social distancing, and apply this on their farm.

• For more information about keeping children safe on farms see the HSE website.


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