Keeping Children Safe on Farms

Farm safety is again in the headlines with the tragic death of a boy aged four, following an accident on a farm last week, in Co Fermanagh.

The accident took place on a farm in the Maguiresbridge area of the county at approximately 8.30pm on Thursday. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) attended the scene and confirmed the death.

“The child was sadly pronounced dead at the scene,” inspector Glen Latimer said.

“Local PSNI will work closely with the Health and Safety Executive as they investigate the circumstances.”

Please remember to look after kids on the Farm, and with the improved summer-like weather, children are more likely to roaming free so be careful!

The main causes of fatal accidents involving children on farms are tractors/machinery and drowning. Adults have a huge responsibility to ensure that the risks posed to children on farms are assessed and controls are put in place to prevent death and injury.

Please have a read of the points below to bear in mind:


  • A safe and secure play area for children should be provided away from all work activities, in full view of the dwelling house.
  • Where children are not in a secure play area, a high level of adult supervision must be provided.
  • Children should not be allowed to access heights.
  • Action should be taken to keep children away from dangerous areas.
  • To eliminate the risk of drowning, all open water tanks, wells and slurry tanks should be fenced off.
  • Children should be given clear instructions of all safety issues on the farm.
  • Instruct children that are being carried in the tractor cab, to always wear their seat belts.
  • Identify and control particular dangers to children (e.g. tractor operation, slurry pits, falls).
  • Keep children away from dangerous areas (slurry pits, silage pits, grain/chemical stores, working machinery, high areas).
  • Children should not be allowed near dangerous animals such as bulls, stallions, rams, stags and female animals with new-born young.
  • The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 require farmers to identify what work is suitable for children and what work is not suitable.
  • Young children should not be allowed unsupervised access to the farmyard.
  • Discuss with visitors and agricultural contractors.
  • Make contractors aware of the possible presence of children.
  • Organise training for young teenagers – tractor safety driving skills.
  • Do not allow children under 14 to operate tractors or self-propelled machines.

Only allow children over 14 to drive a tractor or self-propelled vehicles, in line with legal requirements.

  • When children have to be carried in the cab, it must be fitted with a properly designed and fitted passenger seat with seat belts.
  • A child or young person aged 14 or over should only be permitted to drive a tractor or self-propelled machine on the farm, if:
  • They have attended a formal training course run by a competent training provider.
    They are closely supervised by a responsible adult.
  • They have the ability to operate the controls with ease.
  • All the controls are conveniently accessible for safe operation, by the operator when seated in the driver’s seat.
  • The controls which operate the power take off (PTO) devices, hydraulic devices and engine cut-off are clearly marked to show the effect of their operation.
  • The tractor is maintained so that it is safe for them to operate.
  • The ground over which the tractor is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations, river banks, lake or pond edges, deep ditches and similar areas.

Information via HSA.ie

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