Over the next few months, the Wales Farm Safety Partnership (WFSP), together with all other Farm Safety Partnerships in the UK, will be urging farming families in Wales to implement practical measures that will help keep children safe on farms. The advice will be relevant to all family members, farm workers, individuals such as vets and trades people as well as members of the public who pass through.
The WFSP, a collaboration of the key agricultural stakeholder organisations in Wales, is working together to raise awareness of farm safety for families this summer in readiness for the light evenings and school holidays. A new publicity and communications campaign will urge farming families to be aware of the dangers and take the necessary steps to identify and safeguard against the potential risks to children.
Earlier this year, WFSP appointed two new ‘farm safety ambassadors’ whose task is to encourage all those connected with agriculture to acknowledge the risks and implement best practice within their own businesses. Part of their role will be to encourage all those involved with farming to tap into the support, guidance and training available. Alun Elidyr, a presenter on S4C’s Ffermio programme and a farmer himself, together with Ceredigion farmer Glyn Davies, through their day to day work and contacts within their own rural communities, are already working with the WFSP partners and farming families throughout Wales urging them to ‘Stop, think and recognise that all farms contain potential hazards, especially for inquisitive children who often don’t realise the dangers.’
Alun Elidyr says that farms are busy working areas, full of serious hazards and although they are first and foremost a working environment, they are also family homes. He says it’s essential that farmers try to separate work from home life by ensuring that children are never left unattended and are always with responsible adults who are free to focus entirely on their safety and not distracted by farm work.
“People often mistakenly believe that farm children understand farm risks, but most of those involved in on-farm incidents are family members and sadly, every year we hear of tragic or life-changing accidents involving children, in Wales and throughout the UK,” says Alun.
“Farms must never become playgrounds so all children need somewhere secure and safe to play that is away from the workplace and the risks associated with any typical farm environment.
“Livestock and farm animals; moving vehicles such as cars, ATVs and tractors; machinery; dangerous substances; stacks of hay, straw and silage, silos and slurry pits, ladders and gates – there are of course many more – but these are just a few very typical working areas which can prove fatal to a young and enquiring mind.
“If your children need to enter your place of work, please remember that adult supervision is essential, and such boundaries become even more important during the school holidays and weekends when children spend longer daylight hours at home and are often tempted to venture outside unescorted and sometimes unnoticed by adults.”
Glyn Davies, who is one of Farming Connect’s approved farm safety mentors, says that the Wales Farm Safety Partnership, which recently set up its own Facebook and Twitter channels, wants all rural organisations to urge every farming family to tap into the wealth of guidance, support, information and training available on farm safety. Find out more by visiting Farming Connect (www.gov.wales/farmingconnect) which offers training courses as well as fully-funded confidential one-to-one mentoring on farm safety and EASI (www.quadsafety.org), an organisation which offers specialist ATV training courses.
“If we all work together as an industry, spread the word of how essential it is to make sure your farm is safe and that family members each take responsibility for staying within the law and safeguarding children, then we should be able to reduce the number of tragic incidents that happen year after year.”