Keeping our next generation of farmers safe is so important
Over these school holidays, I have really been thinking about how safely we farm...
The opportunities on a farm are wonderful for our children and their friends to develop an vital understanding of work and day to day responsibilities. Farming has been seen as a family led industry for years with skills being passed down from generation to generation, However this trend is slowly changing.
People from many backgrounds are now trying their hand at farming and living off the land, this may be city folk or people from other countries looking for a better way to live and bring up their families. There is no doubt they bring some new and varied skills to the industry, but also with that comes the lack of common sense that is in gained from being brought up in such an environment. This is where 'The Yellow Wellies Farm Campaign' comes into its own - The Farm Safety Foundation are committed to spread awareness about safety on the farm for all to be able to implement and understand.
Farming is a notoriously dangerous career, so many factors can cause injury or worse, as an industry, safety should be focused on more than anything else, even money.
So how do I go about keeping my children safe on our farm when they love being amongst it so much:
Children play a massive role on a working farm, they are keeping a tradition alive, but what's more important is keeping them safe at all times. Being a mummy on the farm with my precious little ones treating the yard like a playground scares the hell out of me, so my husband and I sat down and put some simply safety steps in place.
Firstly, I'm not suggesting children shouldn't be on the farm, they 100% should ,but what I try and do is teach them not only about the farm, but also the dangerous each aspect of the farm can have, it's all about knowing the risks, children are a completely different kettle of fish to the 'grown ups' when understanding dangers.
We moved into the farm a week before my first child was born, so we have only ever had children around on the farm really. My proud husband would regularly strap him to the front of him in his overalls and take him to see the cows and have a sit on the tractor. I feel the real safety threat is not at this new born stage it's when the child becomes mobile and there is no stopping them and you need eyes in the back of your head.
So a year on, I had a toddler running around and I was pregnant with our second child, because I thought I wasn't nearly busy enough!!! However, here is where my safety game steps up. With two little ones under 2, I couldn't just focus on one child. I had to start thinking outside the box so they could cherish their time on the farm, whilst being safe.
Long gone are the days of the children not wearing helmets when they come on the quad bike and just being chucked in the pickup whilst you pop up the yard. I got slated once on social media for a photo of my daughter sat on my lap in the combine, I would have accepted a discussion, but not a slating. You see, if we talk to each other we learn and from learning we can all become safe, one free tip could save a precious life, I didn't sit her on my lap because I wanted to put her at risk, I did it because I thought she was safer with me in the cab then anywhere else, here starts the different opinions being aired.
Learning from previous mistakes is a great way to get safety implemented, I hold my hands up, my children have shut their fingers in tractor cab doors, fallen off bales and played in stuff they really shouldn't have, but these things were our flags to change something, we now look at what we are doing and dangers surrounding it. I live by, we are only human and even the most conscientious can make mistakes.
We still take our children on the tractors and they still help out with the animals, however, they are always wearing hi-visibility vests so they can be seen (I even have spares for their friends), we have signs up and we are open with them about the dangers, my son often tells his friends that a tractor can squash you, you mustn't go by the wheels.
What we do safety wise on the farm will change as the children get older, as they will want more responsibility and with that more often than not comes more danger.
The biggest and by far the best way to keep children safe is by keeping your attention on them, get off the mobile and check their surroundings and make sure they are in your sights at all times. We all have that one child who wants to push the boundaries and go on their own adventure, yes I agree it's good for them to explore, but NOT around the farm. Something else that should not be overlooked is the storage of dangerous chemicals and vets drugs, ours are well and truly locked away not only out of reach, but also out of sight of the children.
Lastly, burning the candle at both ends can be a huge factor in farm accidents, a tiny second of lapse of concentration due to tiredness can prove fatal. Throughout the farming year there will be times when sleep is a forgotten thing and you will be tired, just take stock and think about the implications it could have, snatch a 30 minute power nap or ask for help with children, once again, you are only human! Farming is a great and rewarding industry, let's just do it safely, farmers are not indestructible, even if they think they are!
The above is all from my experience on our farm , it is by no means legal. For more H&S legal information please visit www.yellowwellies.org
Stay safe. x