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Coronavirus: Ulster Farmers' Union warns of dangers to children in a farm setting

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Victor Chestnutt

Victor Chestnutt

Victor Chestnutt

Families on farms have been warned to be vigilant while schools are closed during the coronavirus crisis.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said that with curious minds and adventurous spirits, children love to get out on the farm to meet the animals and explore.

However, farms are a place of work and are a dangerous environment for children, the UFU said.

UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt, said: “Children are naturally curious.

“Children view farms as one big play area and fail to understand the consequences that go hand in hand with playing around machinery, equipment and livestock.

“Farms, and in particular working farms, can be tempting places for them to play and often children do not understand the dangers a farm can present.”

Agriculture has one of the highest fatal accident rates of any industry in Northern Ireland and is the only high-risk industry that has to deal with the constant presence of children.

“It can be very difficult to both supervise children and work on the farm” said Mr Chestnutt.

“With this in mind, parents/guardians should think about preventative measures they can put in place to help protect children from the dangers.

“These measures include providing children with a securely fenced-off play area, ensuring unattended vehicles are kept locked, and discouraging children from using bales of any description for playing. It is vital that every farmer and farming family take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their family.”

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on the farming community to keep children safe on the farm and they have provided a farm safety checklist.

The UFU encourages farmers and their families to visit www.hseni.gov.uk for more information on farm safety.

It advises that children should not be allowed in the farm workplace, but any access for children aged under 16, for example for education, should be planned and fully supervised by an adult not engaged in work activity.

It also reminds farmers that children under the age of 13 are not allowed to drive or ride on any agricultural machine.

Belfast Telegraph