Tractor incidents remain the number one cause of death in agriculture. Tractors overturning without rollover protection cause a majority of the fatal injuries to operators. Safety specialists have estimated that non-rollover protected tractors account for nearly 50 percent of all farm tractors in use across the nation. According to Karen Funkenbusch, research associate with the University of Missouri Rural Health and Safety Outreach Program, children can be injured riding on tractors, [but also] in grain wagons, or in activities around grain bins or chores with farm animals or by drowning in farm ponds.
Funkenbush offers these basic tips to keep children safe on or around the farm:
- Do not allow children to roam freely on the farm. Design a safe fenced play area.
- Regularly inspect the farm for hazards that can injure children.
- Be sure farm ponds and pits are fenced.
- Assign children only age-appropriate work tasks and then train and supervise them.
- Equip all barns, farm shops, chemical storage areas and livestock pens with door latches that can be locked so children cannot enter.
- Always turn equipment off, lower hydraulics and remove the key.
- Never allow extra riders on tractors or let underage drivers operate farm vehicles.
- Make sure tractors and other equipment are in proper working order. Install rollover protective bars and seat belts on tractors that don’t have them.
- Discuss safety issues as a family and determine age-appropriate farm chores.
When accidents do cause disabilities, there is help. The Missouri AgrAbility Project provides services for rural people with disabilities. The AgrAbility Project is a collaborative effort of University of Missouri Extension, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Departments of Occupational and Physical, School of Health Professions, and Services for Independent Living.
For more information, call Karen Funkenbusch at (800) 995-8503 or visit the Missouri AgrAbility Project.
Your local University of Missouri Extension office also has guide sheets related to farm safety. One of the most popular is G1950, “Responding to Farm Accidents,” which is also available online.