We’re excited for FFA Week and grateful for the education it provides to future farmers. Safety is an important component of education, too. We’re here to remind young farmers and those supervising them of these top five safety tips.
“Future Farmers of America” was founded by a group of young farmers in 1928 to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.
FFA Week began 20 years later, on the week of George Washington’s birthday to honor his legacy as an agriculturalist and farmer.
It’s a week dedicated to celebrating not only the planting and harvesting involved in feeding a population, but the science, business and art that’s also behind it.
But in order to reap the rewards of farm work, everyone must stay as safe as possible.
Here are five important farm safety tips young workers and those supervising them should always keep in mind.
1. Determine the right time for a child to drive a tractor. Because tractors are a leading cause of death and injury on farms, it’s imperative you adequately prepare your child for handling these large vehicles.
Can your child reach and operate all of the controls when wearing a seatbelt? Can he or she remain completely seated while on a lawn tractor? Have they built enough coordination to use hands and feet at the same time – in other words, can they run and dribble a basketball?
You should be able to answer “yes” to these 12 questions before allowing your child to operate machinery.
2. Teach youth how to use a fire extinguisher. It’s important to teach everyone in your family and on your farm how to use a fire extinguisher. Doing so can prevent a devastating loss from a fire.
We’ve found the P.A.S.S. fire extinguisher method, formulated by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, resonates well with youth:
- P is for pull the pin of the extinguisher;
- A is for aim low;
- S is for squeeze the handle; and
- S is for sweep from side to side.
3. Ensure your teen is working safely on heavy machinery. Unfortunately, between 60 and 70 tees die from job-related injuries each year. To minimize dangers for young workers, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration offers this list of do’s and don’ts to teenage famers:
- Don’t use equipment you haven’t been trained to use
- Do use earplugs or earmuffs in high noise work areas
- Do use safety glasses or goggles when exposed to flying particles
- Don’t reach into or perform maintenance on any equipment that has not been properly shut down
- Do Wear appropriate protective clothing, gloves and shows for the job you’re doing
If you have teens working on your farm, read more about keeping them safe while they operate heavy machinery.
4. Abide by grain bin safety measures. Grain bins are a dangerous place, whether you are an adult or a child. There’s little chance of survival if you’re walking on the surface of the grains and you plunge into them.
The number one safety rule? Keep children away from grain bins. Grain flow can cover them before anyone knows what is happening.
There are specific safety precautions older teenagers should follow when working near grain bins. Read about them here.
5. Take precaution when working with livestock. Although you should always consider animal behavior to be unpredictable, a lack of knowledge about general animal behavior can put any handler into a dangerous situation – especially inexperienced employees and youth.
That’s why, if a young person is feeding calves, for instance, you should:
- Ensure he or she is comfortable around calves. Calves scare easily and, in some cases, can make a child nervous. It can also lead to injury.
- Install a proper barrier between an animal and a child.
- Always have an experienced adult demonstrate. This way, the child or teen can mimic the demonstration when doing it on their own.
To avoid child & teen injuries from livestock – which, most commonly, include being stepped on by large animals, being knocked down, kicked, thrown while riding, getting bit or pinned between the animal and a hard surface – read further about safely working with livestock here.
We hope everyone has a great FFA Week and benefits from education on the farm. However, remember to follow these five safety tips to ensure everyone remains injury-free!