You may have heard that in February this year HSE prosecuted a father for the death of his 12 year old son. This is true. It is not a case that was brought lightly but after great consideration. The legal circumstances and the avoidable nature of the child’s death meant that HSE was obliged to enforce law that is designed to protect children.
The law is not new. For more than 50 years it has been illegal for children under 13 years of age to drive tractors. Even at 13 there are specific conditions that must be met. In this tragic case the 12 year old boy had been repeatedly allowed to drive, unsupervised, a tractor; sadly he died whilst doing so.
The district judge was concerned that HSE take every opportunity to publicise this case and for the agricultural community to ensure they are aware of the law applying to children and agricultural work.
We don’t want to this little boy’s parents to be seen as anything other than loving and we don’t think they were alone in taking risks. In the two year period during which this child died, we saw 10 child fatalities in agriculture and two major injury accidents from a range of different causes.
HSE is keen that children experience agriculture and learn with their families but this must be approached sensibly. We are urging all in the agricultural community to re-evaluate what you are letting your children do. Are you allowing children to undertake tasks that are not legal or are beyond the individual child’s capability?
To help you understand your duties to children, there is an Approved Code of Practice entitled “Prevention of accidents to children in agriculture”. This includes full details of the law that applies. This is available from HSE books and good booksellers. HSE produces free leaflets on child safety and has links to child safety information on our website.
HSE supports the Year of Food and Farming initiative and open farm Sunday and wants town and rural children to see farming as their future.