Lisa Pfeifer – OSU Ag Safety and Health Education Coordinator
The long hours in the field during the busy months of planting and the beginning of hay harvest leave many farmers missing their young children. While it is tempting to spend some time bonding by bringing the little ones along on the tractor, remember it flies in the face of recommended safety practice. Often it is nostalgic to think of the time you spent riding alongside your grown-up farmer during your own youth, but machinery and equipment have grown in size, complexity and speed, so take pause before you tote your budding farmer along. A farm can be a dangerous environment for a child still growing in physical, mental, and emotional capacities. A summer farm safety assessment is a good practice to have before the kids are out of school and back home in the farmyard all day.
Some questions to consider in performing a mental check:
- Where are poisonous chemicals are stored? Are they locked or out of reach?
- What barriers are in place around manure pits or ponds?
- Is there access to livestock holding areas or pastures for small children?
- What is the farm protocol for key storage to equipment? Don’t forget to think about the small equipment like ATVs, UTVs, or lawn tractors the little ones are likely to think they can handle.
- Are equipment travel paths outside of possible bicycle, scooter play areas?
- Do haylofts have the proper barriers installed to protect from falls?
Remember to be a good safety role model on the farm, even when the days get long.