Child safety on farms
Farms are both workplaces and homes. They can be great places for children to grow up (or just to visit) but they can also be dangerous.
As a farmer there are steps you can take to minimise risks so you can continue doing what you enjoy, and any children who spend time on your property keep safe.
Kids may not be aware of all the hazards and risks that being on a farm pose.
Here are 6 tips when you have kids on your farm.
Create a safe space
Teach kids to wear safety gear or appropriate clothing when riding farm vehicles suitable for their age, working with animals or out in the sun. Kids learn by mimicking, so if you treat farm safety with importance they will too.
Fence off your back yard and paddocks to ensure children are not exposed to dangers such as animals escaping. Also adequately fence off farm dams, ponds and other bodies of water to reduce the risk of drowning.
Install a gate closure that children cannot easily use
Similar to a pool gate, it's essential that your fenced in yard has a self closing gate that includes a child proof latch. An insecure gate is the same as having no gate at all. If you're worried about people leaving the gate open, then put a sign up reminding people to 'shut the gate.
Don't let your kids ride on the back of tractors, quad bikes or utes
Although they're extremely important for farm life, farm vehicles can also be a major cause of accidents and injury. Children should never ride on the back of any farm vehicle.
Ensure kids are supervised whenever they face risks
Supervise kids on your farm whenever they're in a situation that may be risky for them. Dams, livestock, machinery and vehicles are a few aspects of farm life that present a significant safety threat. Children should always be with an adult when they're outside the safe play area on a farm.
Lead by example
Teach kids to wear safety gear or appropriate clothing when riding suitable farm vehicles for their age, working with animals or out in the sun. Kids learn by mimicking so if you treat farm safety with importance they will too.
Anna is both a mother and a long term farmer, so she understands the reality of raising kids on farms. She’d just moved to a new area in southern NSW when she recalls the scary moment her young daughter disappeared on the farm.
Living on a farm offers a unique opportunity to raise children in a way that connects them with their natural surroundings.
It doesn’t matter how often they interact with farm animals, it should always be as safe as possible. Teach them:
- how to approach an animal, for example with a slow, steady, non-threatening pace, speaking softly with one hand outstretched, stopping close enough so the animal can sniff or reach out which can help the animal
- how to recognise warning signs including each animal’s unique behaviour
- to have an escape plan if working closely with large animals
- to not stand behind animals because they can become startled and cause injury.
- to always supervise kids until you are confident in their ability to stay safe.
Rivers, creeks and streams accounted for 25 per cent of all drownings in Australia according to data released by the Royal Live Saving National Drowning Report.
These types of waterways are common on Australian farms and it is essential that children are properly supervised around any bodies of water.
Children under the age of five are most at risk of drowning and the risk is increased if they are visiting your farm
Keep children safe around water by:
- using fencing to restrict access to water on your property eg between the house and dam, the play area and the dam or any pool
- teaching your children about water safety and how to swim from a young age
- learning and practicing CPR
- teaching any children not to go near the dam, creek or river etc without you or another adult
- where possible making sure there aren’t any climbable objects near bodies of water including portable pools.
On-farm vehicles such as tractors and quad bikes can be especially dangerous for children.
A high number of farm accidents causing hospitalisation involve vehicles. A leading cause of child deaths on farms is quad bikes.
Never allow children to ride or be a passenger on any quad bike.
- Quad bikes
- Child safety on farms fact sheet
- ‘How many hazards can you find?’ – education tool
- Kidsafe gives recommendations on farm safety
- for farmers: National Farmers Federation (NFF)
- for commercial fish operations owners: Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA)
- for forest products growers and support: Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA)
- for agriculture and fisheries workers: Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)
- for forestry workers: The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).