Keeping safety a priority

Written by Lauren Holtmeier


Farm Safety For Just Kids focuses on educating children about potential hazards on the farm. An 11-year-old boy’s mother started the organization about 30 years ago after the child suffocated in a gravity-flow wagon. It quickly evolved and is now a national organization with about 30 chapters across the United States and two in Canada.

“The organization seeks to address the safety issues on farms most relevant to children,” says Shari Burgus, education director at Farm Safety For Just Kids.

Burgus says they look at recent research to see which risks are prevalent when deciding what safety topics to focus on. For example, the advent of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) brought new risks to farm life, especially for children, and the organization worked to inform the public about new potential hazards.

Burgus says the first thing to look at when talking about prevention is to identify how the child is related to the work environment. If he/she is a bystander in the situation, it is best to remove the child from the environment. If they are involved in the operation, teaching them about machinery, as well as other hazards, is essential.

“The training can be formalized, like a class, or it can be Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa making sure they have sufficient educational skills to complete the assigned task,” she says.

The risk of an accident will always be present on farms. Making sure everyone is aware of high-risk areas on the farm can help prevent needless injury.

“Each situation is different, and there isn’t one solution or training method that is appropriate in all situations,” Burgus says.


Farm Safety Tips from Farm Safety For Just Kids

Tractors — Machinery was the leading cause of fatal injury for children in 2011 at 23 percent.

Some ways to keep kids safe when around tractors

  • Avoid having extra riders as there are often not seatbelts for passengers
  • Avoid having children crawling on tractors, as they can fall and injure themselves
  • Keep them away from PTO shafts if shields are not present
  • Store large dual tires properly to avoid tempting kids to play with them

Animals — Animals also present a large risk to children’s safety, and up to 250 diseases can be shared between humans and animals

Some tips for children working with animals

  • Vaccinate animals
  • Encourage hand washing after touching animals to prevent spreading diseases
  • Make sure animals are aware of you, so you don’t frighten them
  • Approach animals at the shoulder using a calm voice
  • Always wear proper clothing, including close-toed shoes

Grain — More than 900 grain bin entrapments have occurred in the past 50 years, with a fatality rate of more than 60 percent.

Ways to ensure safety around grain

  • Keep access doors to grain storage structures locked
  • Lock out power to all types of grain-handling equipment
  • Use the buddy system while loading and unloading grain
  • Don’t permit children to ride in grain wagons or enter grain storage areas
  • Always know where family members are while grain is being moved