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Training for Young Farmers
Today’s Halloween and there are many families going to local farms to pick pumpkins, so as our final news publication this month we will be highlighting the dangers to Children on Farms and the available training for young farmers.
Every year children are killed during agricultural work activities. People often believe that farm children understand farm risks, but most children who die in farm incidents are family members. A few straightforward steps, and proper supervision of children, will reduce these risks.
Other members of the public may also be at risk, eg when using public rights of way through fields containing cattle and calves, or even pumpkin picking!
It is against the law to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural self-propelled machines (such as tractors) and certain other farm machinery. The law also requires that employers make sure their risk assessment for young people under the age of 18 takes full account of their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of relevant risks.
Children – driving or operating farm machinery
The law says that no child under 13 may drive or ride on tractors and other self-propelled machines used in agriculture. Before allowing children over 13 to operate a tractor, certain conditions must be met.
Children under 16 must not drive, operate, or help to operate, any of the following:
X towed or self-propelled harvesters and processing machines;
X trailers or feed equipment with conveying, loading, unloading or spreading mechanisms;
X power-driven machines with cutting, splitting, or crushing mechanisms or power-operated soil-engaging parts;
X chemical applicators such as mounted, trailed or knapsack sprayers;
X handling equipment such as lift trucks, skid steer loaders or all-terrain vehicles.
Carrying passengers on farm machinery
It is illegal to carry children under 13 in the cab of an agricultural vehicle and it is unsafe. Children can and do:
● fall from the doorway or the rear window;
● interfere with the operator’s control of the vehicle;
● distract the operator or unintentionally operate controls, eg the parking brake or hydraulics, when the operator leaves the cab, eg to open a gate.
If you carry children or adults on trailers (e.g. for farm visits, ‘pick-your-own’) ensure that:
☺ the trailer is in good condition with all safety devices working;
☺ you provide seating and secured it the trailer. Well-made bales, if properly secured, may be adequate;
☺ you fit guard rails around the trailer edges;
☺ you arrange safe mounting and dismounting;
☺ you make sure children are supervised by a responsible adult.
If you have to leave machinery in an area accessed by members of the public, make sure you leave it in a safe condition:
● remove the keys;
● lock the cab;
● leave the controls in neutral;
● lower foreloaders to the ground; and
● apply the parking brake or chock the wheels.
Make sure that contractors and visiting drivers have clearly defined directions on where to park, load and unload and where to wait. This is particularly important if you are aware of public access routes across yards or if the delivery zone is adjacent to the farmhouse.
Can I take my children to work with me?
Childcare arrangements are difficult to organise for many parents. However tempting it may seem, taking them to work with you is not the solution. It is never safe to have a child in the cab. In most years, farming work will lead to the death of at least one child at the hands of their own parent or a close family member. Most children under five who are killed in farm accidents are with an adult at the time. It is very difficult to supervise children, especially toddlers, when doing work that requires your close attention.
Driven by mum: A 2-year-old died after falling out of the back window of a Tractor.
Driven by dad: A 4-year-old had been riding in the cab when her mother arrived in the field to take her home. As the girl went to join her mother, her father drove off and ran her over, killing her.
Driven by grandad: A 5-year-old fell out of the tractor door and was run over by a roller. The child had critical injuries but survived.
Driven by big sister: She got down to sort out livestock, leaving the keys in the ignition and the engine running. A 3-year-old left in the cab decided to get down too and died when becoming entangled in an unguarded power take-off (PTO) shaft.
What about learning through experience?
Health and safety regulation does not prevent learning through experience. It can be undertaken in a planned way with direct supervision. There is nothing wrong with a child watching what you do as long as:
● the task itself is not inherently dangerous;
● the person doing the task is not the same person supervising the child; and
● the child is kept in a safe place.
When children are left to their own devices, provide a safe area or garden for them to play in. Farmyards are workplaces not playgrounds.
We would always recommend attending our professional course of training for Young Farmers, so they are taught the most up to date techniques and health & safety information.
Vehicles and machinery
These present the greatest risk to children and are probably the areas of farm life most attractive to older children. The following are risks for which there are specific legal duties.
Prohibition on driving vehicles and machines
It is illegal to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural selfpropelled machines (such as tractors) and other specified farm machinery while it is being used in the course of agricultural operations or is going to or from the site of such operations.
Prohibition on children riding on machines, vehicles or implements
It is illegal to allow a child under 13 years old to be carried on a tractor, selfpropelled agricultural machine, or a machine or implement mounted on, towed or propelled by a tractor or other vehicle, including a machine or agricultural implement pulled by an animal, usually a horse.
Children are not safe simply because they are in a cab – they can and do fall from cabs through doors which open accidentally, rear windows, or during emergencies. When they get out of the cab they are vulnerable to being run over by the machine as it moves off. Children can also present a risk to operators when they leave the driving position (eg to open gates) by working controls such as parking brakes, hydraulic levers etc, and they can distract the operator’s attention in an emergency.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs or quad bikes)
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs or quad bikes) are considered to be self-propelled agricultural machines when they are used in agricultural operations. It is therefore illegal for them to be driven for work by children under the age of 13. It is also illegal to carry a child as a passenger. We provide ATV training for Young Farmers and all ages, click HERE for more course details.
Kentra Training is a family business, and we take the safety of all children seriously. Being based in rural Cheshire we have provided many types of training for young farmers over the years and are able to tailor our work programmes to allow for years of accompanying older relatives during their daily work activities, where some may have picked up bad habits.
We provide training for all type of equipment used on farms including
● All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
● Fork-lift trucks or telescopic materials handlers
● Agricultural tractors
● Loading shovels
We hope you have found this article on training for young farmers of interest, and as always our office staff are available for you to Contact Us and happy to discuss any of your training queries.
Regards The Kentra Team