Today marks the last day of Farm Safety Week, an initiative launched in 2013 which aims to highlight the issues of poor safety practices on our farms in the hope that there will be a reduction in the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest record of any occupation in the UK & Ireland. The initiative is again supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.
Farms are usually family homes as well as workplaces, with children often present and, tragically, between 2000 – 2016 in Northern Ireland, eleven children have lost their lives due to farm accidents
Hence, to coincide with Farm Safety Week 2017, the Farm Safety Partnership is promoting the Farm Secure App aimed at teaching children how to become safer around the farmyard.
‘Farm Secure’, developed by students at the University of Ulster’s School of Nursing, and sponsored by the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) is aimed at Key Stage 1 pupils in P1 to P4 and features videos and an interactive quiz.
Child safety on farms is a high priority for all key stakeholders involved in Farm Safety Week, and with this app we can raise awareness for children living and playing on farms, therefore making all farms safer places by reducing work-related accidents which can lead to injuries or even fatalities amongst children.
Summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about the farm more when work activity is running at a very high level - often with contractors on-site operating potentially dangerous vehicles and machinery. This app can help them identify those dangers that lurk on the farmyards, and advises them on what they should and should not do when confronted with different situations.
Keith Morrison, Chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership, said: “Educating children and their families about farm safety remains vitally important, particularly at this busy time of the year. Technology plays an increasingly important role in education and the Farm Secure App provides a really interesting and engaging way for parents and children to learn about the many dangers on farms and how to stay safe all year round.”
Children can download the app from the App store, where they can take a quiz on farm safety, compare their scores with others on the leader-board, and watch a number of farm safety videos on issues such as slurry, machinery, farm animals and bugs and germs.
HSENI will be promoting this app at the start of the new school year to all the rural primary schools as part of the Child Safety on Farms campaign in conjunction with the work already undertaken to promote safety for children on farms. Last year HSENI visited 104 schools and reached over 13,000 pupils with the farm safety message.
Further information can be also obtained from the HSENI You Tube page, where children can find various Key Stage 1 videos entitled ‘Dangerous Playgrounds’ and a Key Stage 2 video entitled ‘Farm Safe’, which will provide more advice and guidance on the farmyard for the various age groups.
According to Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week: “Children are enchanted by farm animals, the equipment and the activity that comes with the cycles of nature and summer is a time when children can be more at risk with the school holidays and the challenging workloads for farmers. We are encouraging farming families to have a dedicated safe play area for younger children to keep them safe from heavy machinery and other dangers around the farm, particularly when farms are at their busiest. Too often, children have access to the entire farm and view it as one big play space. Children must be taught about farm dangers and be kept isolated from these risks.”
Stephanie added: “Whilst it is important that children are looked after they should still be encouraged to engage with farms in order to learn how they work and understand how food is produced. It is also important that the next generation of farmers are able to safely help their parents on the farm. If children are old enough, tell them about the dangers they should look out for and where they are not allowed to go and encourage them to be responsible. Farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan so take the time to think about what you are doing on the farm, where the children are and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own child’s!”
For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek