Farming – it’s not child’s play!

    • Themed help and advice placed online each day of the third annual Farm Safety Week 6-10 July

    • Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland join forces to drive the initiative.

    • Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD welcomes the joint initiative.

    • Friday’s theme – Farming – it’s not child’s play!


    Today marks the final day of Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland and today reminds us that farming is not child’s play!


    Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland offered a week of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers great post to read. From falls and transport to child safety – Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland urges farmers not to learn safety by accident especially when it comes to children…


    According to Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with HSA and member of the Farm Safety Partnership Ireland: Every child loves being on the farm, but while it can be place of great fun and excitement, it can also be an extremely dangerous environment – especially for children. Twenty three children have sadly lost their lives on Ireland’s farms over the past decade and farms remain the only workplace where children still continue to die. Recent weeks have seen the death toll rise again in what is always a horrific tragedy for families and heart-breaking for their communities. This is why it is important that the issue of farm safety is addressed, a plan is devised and implemented properly.


    “Summer is a time when children can be more at risk with the long school summer holidays and the challenging workloads for farmers.  We are encouraging farming families to have a dedicated safe play area for younger children so as to keep them safe from heavy machinery and other dangers around the farm, particularly when farms are at their busiest. Too often, children have access to the entire farm and view it as one big play space. Children must be taught about farm dangers and be kept isolated from these risks.


    In a recent series of video clips entitled “What’s left behind” developed by Embrace FARM (a support network in Ireland for those affected by fatal and serious accidents), the father of six year old James Higgins reflect on the life of an “extraordinary little fellow” who stood out with his blonde hair and ability to talk to anyone from little pals his own age to people in their 90’s but who died when he fell into a soak-pit on the family farm near Shannonbridge in Co Offaly.


    On the day of the accident, James had gone down to show his grandfather his new glasses, just 50m away from the house, but when James’ mother Joan went down there was no sign of him.


    According to James’ father Padraig: “There was a hole dug in the garden for a soak-pit and there was some water in it and we saw the little green knitted cap that he would have been wearing normally and it was floating around on the top of it. We thought there was something strange there,”


    The family rushed to the spot and James’ brother Colm dived repeatedly into the freezing cold water to look for him fully convinced he wasn’t in it however their worst fears were realised when he caught his jumper and brought him up. “The panic started then,” added Colm.


    An ambulance arrived to bring James to hospital but the family knew it was too late. Padraig believes that, with 22 children losing their lives in accidents on Irish farms between 20015-2015, the freedom his sons enjoyed growing up, can no longer be given to children on farms. “All our little lads used to come out and feed calves and it was great but we didn’t see the danger. An accident happens in a split second and it’s too late then. People have to be aware of what’s left behind. A farmyard is not a playground.”


    The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, in welcoming Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland outlined, “It is important that we continually highlight the need to focus on safe working practices and systems on our farms at all times.” He added: “This is a shared objective for us all. I fully support this initiative and ask everyone to take on board these safety messages in an effort to bring about behavioural changes”.


    Pat Griffin added “Whilst it is important that children are looked after, they should still being encouraged to engage with farms in order to learn how they work and understand how food is produced. It is also important that the next generation of farmers are able to safely help their parents on the farm. If children are old enough, tell them about the dangers they should look out for and where they are not allowed to go and encourage them to be responsible. Don’t let them learn safety by accident. Always take the time to think about what you are doing on the farm, where the children are and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own child’s!” #FarmSafetyWeek


Watch the Higgins family story on the Embrace FARM YouTube channel here  


stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Farming – it’s not child’s play!