September 1, 2004 | By: Ellen Brightwell

Children and adolescents are injured or killed in farm incidents every year. Following basic farm safety practices could have prevented many of these tragic incidents.

"Agricultural studies show that an estimated 20,000 youth have serious, long-term injuries and more than 100 children die in farm-related tragedies each year," said Larry Piercy, Extension agricultural health and safety specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

In Kentucky, 13 people ages nine through 19 years were killed while working in agricultural industries from 1994 through 2003, according to Terry Bunn, a project manager with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center.

"Many people think farm incidents are inevitable, but they are preventable when children and adults know how to be safe on the farm," Piercy said. "Parents should thoroughly train children in safe farm practices, enforce all safety rules with consequences, and set a good example of what to do, and not do, to prevent incidents."

Farm children are especially vulnerable to injuries because the home and workplace are combined. Farm visitors often are not aware of potential dangers. Young children are naturally curious; older ones may want to impress their parents or peers. Although a task may appear to be age appropriate, some children may not have the size, strength, coordination and maturity to safely handle the job.

"To reduce incidents, identify farm hazards and find ways to deal with them," 
Piercy said. "Until children are old enough to safely help around the farm, do not allow them in areas where work is under way. Know where young children are at all times and be sure to supervise the younger ones. It is a good idea to carefully plan a 'safe play area' with limited exposure to agricultural work hazards."

Piercy said studies show some of the most dangerous things around farms are equipment and tools, especially tractors, livestock, all-terrain vehicles, chemicals (pesticides, fertilizer, fuels, paint and oils) and structures such as grain bins, silos, hay lofts, animal pens, ponds and manure pits.

"Be sure these and other hazardous areas are off limits," he said.

Farm machinery, especially tractors without roll-over protective structures, is a leading cause of fatalities, accounting for 30 percent of those among children below five years. Extra riders, often children, fall off and are run over. Other run-over incidents involve unseen bystanders such as small children.

"When youth are old enough to safely operate equipment, train them to recognize hazards and know how to avoid these, as well as the physical task of operating the machinery," Piercy said.

Poisoning continues to be potentially lethal on farms, so keep chemicals in safe storage areas that are out of children's reaches. Hazardous chemicals include pesticides, cleansers and disinfectants. Always store chemicals in their original, labeled containers and keep a fire extinguisher and protective clothing in the storage area.


Writer: Ellen Brightwell 859-257-4736 Ext. 257
Sources: Larry Piercy 859-25-3000 Ext. 107

Terry Bunn 859-257-4955