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Growing up on the Farm

By Bonita Mechor
Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture
August 1, 2011

A child growing on the farm with an abundance of fresh air and exercise is the lifestyle that most farm families wish for their children.  This can be a wonderful place for children to thrive, but if proper supervision and play areas are not in place, the outcome can result in tragic heartbreak.

Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to farm injuries. According to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) the most common causes of hospitalized agricultural injuries in children are falls from heights, working and playing with animals, and entanglements.  Falls from heights were especially frequent in five to nine year olds.  They account for almost half of the childhood farm fatalities and a quarter of the hospitalizations.

The good news is that the number of agriculture related child fatalities is dropping.  Farmers want their families to be safe.  A survey done by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) supported by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) indicates that only 15% of Canadian farmers have a formal safety plan even though 83% believe that safety on the job is important.  Your children’s safety should be part of your Farm Safety Plan.

Children learn the best from example and when their parents are farming safely, not only will they grow up, they will grow up to farm safely.  Our children are the most important resource on the farm.

What can we do to keep farm children safe?

  • Create a safe play area.  For a resource on creating Safe Play Spaces go to:  www.marshfieldclinic.org/research/children/safePlay
  • Assess the physical and cognitive readiness of your children.  The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks is a great tool to do this.  It can be found at www.safekidscanada.ca
  • Organize a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day for children in your community.  You can find out more information and apply for funding at www.casa-acsa.ca
  • Any of the above activities can be included as an essential part of your Farm Safety Plan

Interested in starting your Farm Safety Plan?  Contact the Agricultural Health and Safety Network at (306) 966-6644.