Kidsafe Victoria has emphasised the importance of establishing ‘safe play’ areas, together with active adult supervision, in assisting to prevent serious childhood injuries and deaths on farms.
The call comes as part of Farmsafe Australia’s National Farm Safety Week, which is held each year to raise awareness of farm safety issues across Australia.
Statistics from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) reveal that 388 Victorian children aged 0-14 years were treated in hospital in 2018/19 due to a farm related injury ( 302 emergency department presentations and 86 hospital admissions/transfers) – approximately 7 per week.
Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted the unique environments and hazards that were present for children who live on and visit farms.
“Farms typically combine the family home and an industrial workplace, which means children are exposed to a wide range of hazards that aren’t present in urban home environments.”
“It’s important to remember that farm safety isn’t just an issue for people who live in regional Victoria. Quite often families from metropolitan Victoria will travel to and spend time in regional areas, which is why they need to be aware of injury hazards on farms too”, said Mr Chambers.
Common injury hazards for children on farms include vehicles (e.g. tractors, motorbikes and quad bikes), animals, water hazards (e.g. dams, rivers, creeks and animal drinking troughs), machinery and poisons.
Together with active adult supervision, Kidsafe Victoria recommends establishing a securely fenced safe play area that has a range of fun and challenging activities for children, to help keep them safe on farms.
“Hazards such as vehicles, machinery and animals can’t be permanently removed from a farm, so it’s important that practical measures are put in place to help protect children. Establishing a safe play area that is securely fenced, as well as ensuring that children are always actively supervised by an adult, are effective ways to separate children from these hazards and provide a clear boundary between the home and work spaces”, said Mr Chambers.
As part of their commitment towards reducing deaths and injuries on farms, the Victorian Government has provided Kidsafe Victoria with a grant to support the delivery of a farm safety campaign and creative competition in primary schools over the next three years.
The creative competition will see primary school aged children throughout the State turn their creative minds to designing farm safety messaging and materials including posters, videos and radio ads. These materials will then be utilised to form that basis of new community awareness campaigns targeting parents and carers.
The grant is one of two new educational campaigns supported by the Victorian Government as part of the $20 million Smarter, Safer Farms’ program.
Kidsafe Victoria’s Farm Safety Tips
- Active adult supervision is essential to prevent childhood injuries on farms. It’s a good idea to have set supervisors so there is no confusion about who is watching the children.
- Create a safe play area that is securely fenced, visible from the house and has a range of interesting and challenging activities for children, to help prevent unsupervised access to hazards such as dams, animals and machinery.
- Educate children from a young age about potential hazards and set clear farm safety rules and guidelines.
- Have age appropriate jobs for children and restrict their involvement in dangerous tasks.
- Ensure children always buckled up appropriately for their size and age when travelling in vehicles on the farm. Don’t allow children to ride in trailers or in the back of utes.
- Kidsafe does not recommend that children under 16 years old ride or be a passenger on a quad bike.
- Ensure all poisons are kept in their original containers and stored away in a locked area out of the sight and reach of children.
- All families and farm workers should know correct first aid procedures to ensure they are prepared in the event of an emergency.
Jason Chambers, General Manager, Kidsafe Victoria – Mobile: 0431 447 982
For more information on farm safety for children and Kidsafe Victoria’s new farm safety program, please visit https://www.kidsafevic.com.au/home-safety/farm-safety-creative-competition/