Youth Farm Safety
Many youth begin working on the family farm at young ages. They learn at the side of a parent or older sibling. Difficult practices and daily routines are learned and become almost second nature to them as they mature.
According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety 2020 Fact Sheet, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident about every three days. Of the leading sources of fatalities among all youth, 47% involved transportation (including tractors),20% involved contact with machinery and 13% involved violent contact with animals and other humans.
These statistics are alarming. However, taking the time to become aware of your surroundings and properly training yourself, employees and children about safety on the farm can reduce injuries. In many cases, you may find yourself in a hurry, as impending weather may be arriving to delay spring’s planting, or you thought you could unload that grain bin by yourself, as examples. In these instances, your risk of injury increases.
As the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) at the University of Minnesota suggests, take time to stop, think and act while working on the farm.
What could go wrong?
How bad could it be?
Has anything changed?
Do I clearly understand the task?
Am I physically and mentally ready?
Do I have the right tools?
Make it safe!
Use the right tool!
Follow proper procedures!
Hiring non-family youth requires a U.S. Department of Labor Certificate of Training. Youth ages 14 and 15 years of age who wish to become employed as farm labor need to successfully complete a National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. This program requires completing 4 hours of orientation to on-farm hazards and general safety, and taking part in a 10-hour tractor safety course. Individuals 16 years of age and older can be employed in agriculture without the certificate. North Dakota has specific youth employment laws and regulations.
NDSU Extension leads tractor safety schools using the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program designed for teenage youth ages 14-15. This program covers many topics including child labor laws, age-appropriate farm tasks, hazards on the farm and behind-the-wheel training. Contact your Extension agent for details on local youth tractor safety programs.
Some NDSU Extension agents also offer farm safety programs or team up with Progressive Ag to offer Safety Day for youth. Reach out to your agent to find a youth farm safety program happening near you.