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Child safety – Seasonal warning

With the school holidays now underway, your child is in danger. Roger Nourish, Head of HSE’s Agricultural Sector, provides some timely advice on keeping them safe.

Most of us don’t even want to contemplate the death of a child.

Sadly, however, three children have died from accidents involving agricultural transport in the last three months. Two of them were under the age of six.

How can this have happened? Any parent who has suffered such a loss will be asking themselves that question for the rest of their lives.

The fact is, tractors, quad bikes and children just don’t mix. And at this busy time of year - with weeks of school holidays ahead - it is clearly time to ask yourselves: “How am I going to keep my children, and any friends or visitors, safe when they are on the farm?”

Sometimes we adults expect children to be more aware and behave more responsibly than they are capable of being.

Don’t think for one minute that such an accident couldn’t happen on your farm. The truth is these parents didn’t believe it was possible either. It only takes a second for an accident to happen.

Yet, only a few seconds thinking time can make the difference and prevent the needless loss of young lives.

Many farm workers lack proper tractor driving instruction, despite tractors being one of the main causes of fatal farm accidents.

We would never let our child stand in a stall with a dairy bull - so why do we let them walk across the yard where machines and tractors are operating?

Workers are not allowed to ride on ATVs without training or helmets - so why do we let our children?

As head of HSE’s agricultural sector, I am made aware of every fatal accident in agriculture. Such incidents affect us all personally, but even more so when it involves the needless loss of young lives.

Invariably, only a few seconds thinking time would have made the difference.

We don’t want to spoil summer for children but as a parent myself, I urge you to take these few seconds to think and plan ahead.

A mother who is living through the nightmare of having lost a child is Caroline Pugh. 'In November 2001 my 14-year-old son Gareth was killed whilst working and driving an ATV,' she says. 'The employer has just been found guilty at court and fined £35 000 but that will never bring Gareth back.

'I want to see training for all riders of ATVs. This is not HSE being the nanny state; training could have prevented this. The summer holidays are with us and children will be riding these machines for pleasure as well as work,' she adds.


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