Ensure children are safe on Scotland’s farms and crofts this summer

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With Scottish schools starting to break up for the holidays next week, NFU Scotland is warning farmers and crofters of the dangers of letting children play on farm during the summer.

The warning comes ahead of Farm Safety Week, which takes place from 24 to 28 July, when farmers, crofters, their families and their staff will be urged to improve Scotland’s safety record.

Farm Safety Week will focus on the strapline ‘Farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan’.

Accidents on farm can be life changing, not just for those involved but for their families and workforce too. They can be even more devastating when children are involved, and the plea for this summer’s school holidays is for farmers and crofters to take measures to make their farms and crofts safer for children. We all know how fantastic it can be to grow up on a farm, however, with the tragic death of several children on Scotland’s farms in recent years, the industry needs to take action to stop further deaths and injury.

Farm Safety Partnership Scotland – a collaboration between NFU Scotland, Health and Safety Executive, Scottish Government and NFU Mutual – is working to significantly reduce the tragic toll on Scotland’s farms and crofts each year.

NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy commented: “We need the help of Scotland’s farmers and crofters, and those working right across the industry, to reduce death and injuries happening on our farms and crofts.

“Farms can be dangerous places so it is important that everyone takes the necessary steps to stay safe while working. One death within the industry is far too many, and it is not just the initial impact but the long-term effect it can have on families and on the business.

“This impact is exacerbated when children are involved. We are pleading with the industry to take measures to make their farms and crofts a safer place – create designated spaces, educate children about off-limit areas and make workers aware that children could be on farm and to check their mirrors even more regularly. Simple measures could prevent heartbreak.

“Most people working within the agricultural industry will be able to recall a close call that could so easily have resulted in serious injury or even fatality. By adopting some simple steps as part of everyday working practices we can reduce the number of accidents and deaths on Scotland’s farms.

“We are grateful to those who have given the time to tell their stories in the hope that others will learn from their mistakes. It’s all too easy to cut corners to save time, but this can have serious, and sometimes fatal consequences. Please take care and make your safety, and that of those around you a priority.”

Top tips for working safely with children on farms and crofts:

A farmyard is not a playground so establish rules about what young people can and can’t do on the farm.

Keep children away from farm machinery and moving vehicles.

Children under 13 years old must not drive or operate tractors or other farm machinery.

Children under 13 years old must not ride as passengers on tractors, ATVs or other farm machinery.

Ensure drivers have a clear view of corners and install mirrors to increase visibility if necessary

Make sure slurry pits and tanks are securely fenced and inaccessible to prevent children from getting near the area.