GOSHEN COUNTY, Wyo. – The nursery rhyme does not state, “Old MacDonald had a farm and on this farm there was a bunch of dangerous things.” But maybe it should?
Farmers perform an essential service, providing food and other products that consumers commonly take for granted. The inner workings of a farm are something to treat with respect. Most of the families who live and work on a farm understand the potential hazards of such an environment. However, individuals visiting a farm may be unaware of these dangers. Understanding farm safety helps keep everyone safe.
According to the organization Kids Health, the age groups at greatest risk for injury on farms are children ages 3 to 4 and teenagers ages 13 to 14. Most injuries can be prevented, though, with a little education and precautionary measures.
There are many different forms of machinery on a farm to help keep it working efficiently. These items can pose serious safety risks. Although tractors are the type of farm equipment that causes the most injuries, some adults still think it is safe to allow children to ride along.
Injuries that may result from farm machinery include pinching of clothing or parts of the body, where a person may become trapped in the gears or components of equipment; cuts from equipment that shears crops; bruising or cuts from projectiles thrown by mowers or other field equipment; and crushing or trapping injuries from machinery that falls or tips over.
Part of the excitement of visiting a farm is seeing and petting the animals. Although many animals may be docile and domesticated, they can still be unpredictable. Animals that are startled by yelling or loud noises also may become restless and dangerous.
Children should understand that animals may unintentionally cause injuries. It may be in a horse’s defense mechanism to kick when it is scared. To avoid such injuries, never approach animals from behind. Also, when baby animals are present, a female may be protective of her brood and go on the defensive.
Another inadvertent injury that may occur is from bacteria or viruses from the animals. Animal feces may contain bacteria, and there may be other microorganisms on the animals themselves. It is a smart idea to always wash your hands after handling a farm animal to prevent the spread
Here are some other precautions that can be taken when visiting a farm.
• Don’t allow children to wander around unsupervised.
• Rides on farm equipment should be discouraged.
• Before starting machinery, operators should locate children and other guests and clear them from the work area.
• Don’t allow children near machinery.
• Children under the age of 16 should not be allowed to operate any farm vehicles.
• Watch for hand tools or other equipment, and keep children away from them.
• Do not touch animals unless a farm worker allows it. Then follow his or her instructions.
• Don’t provoke farm animals or attempt to startle them.
• Supervise children around ponds, feeding troughs or manure lagoons. It only takes a few inches of water to pose a drowning risk.
Farms are interesting places to visit, especially for children. Safety should always be a priority when visiting a farm.