In recent months, four serious accidents resulting in injuries and death were reported on Lancaster County farms. Three involved young children who were either run over by farm vehicles or became entangled in equipment. Unfortunately, reports like this are not uncommon. And as tragic, random and unpredictable as the accidents were, there are simple actions farm families can take to stay safe.
A quick look at the data
Farms are dangerous places. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls agriculture one of the most hazardous industries in America. It’s also one in which family members often share in the work...and the dangers.
According to Penn State Extension, there were 141 farm-related fatalities from 2010 to 2014 in Pennsylvania. This data does not include accidents that went untreated or unreported.
Awareness is the first step
Awareness of hazards and minimizing associated risks is key to reducing accidents, injuries, and deaths to adults and children who live, work and play on farms. Children are vulnerable to many of the same hazards as adults but, are less capable of understanding those hazards.
Here are 18 simple ways to prevent farm accidents:
- Wear seat belts when you are on tractors, skid loaders or forklifts.
- Never let friends or young children ride with you on farm equipment.
- Make sure there is fencing around manure pits and any open water.
- Always remove keys from farm equipment when not in use.
- Educate children on all aspects of the farm, including hazardous areas and materials.
- Make sure children are completing age-appropriate tasks.
- Train youth in proper and safe operation of farm tasks before assigning chores.
- Keep machinery platforms, floors, and steps clear of snow, mud and manure.
- Keep tools and debris picked up to prevent tripping hazards.
- Don’t wear loose clothing around equipment or work areas.
- Make sure all containers are labelled clearly.
- Stop and turn off all machinery and set brakes before getting off equipment. Never jump off.
- Use the buddy system when entering grain bins, breeding pens or other high-risk areas.
- Install or make sure there is a roll-over protection structure installed on all tractors.
- Prohibit riders on fenders, hitches or any attachments.
- Treat farm animals with respect. Understand their behavior so you will be ready for their actions.
- Make sure necessary personal protective equipment and gear is available for youth and adults.
- Make sure all hay holes have covers that are in working order and are being used correctly to prevent falls.
Safe Kids Lancaster County in partnership with many community volunteers hosts Farm and Family Safety Day events each summer. The events are free and offer a great opportunity for families to be reminded why it is so important to implement, model and practice safe behaviors when living, visiting, working or playing on a farm. For more information contact Sue Lackmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.