Children in the workplace, on the farm

Children on the farm and in the workplace.
We recently asked the followers of our Facebook page how they managed children in the workplace and on the farm. There were some interesting answers and some very responsible parents.

I manage a farm and we allow the kids so long as they are supervised. If changing implements etc from tractors the kids need to be sat in a visable spot far enough out of harms way if anything happened. We have 2 side by sides so kids can come for a ride and be strapped in with seatbelt. They are supervised at all times in rotary cowshed. There is a kitchen with couch and table in there so if need be can have kids in there or in office by cups on while cupping.

There are often good reasons why children need to be in the workplace, but the recommendation is usually to keep the children out of the workplace.

One argument offered is – “how else will they learn if they don’t see what is going on as learning is about being there.” And we have a lot of sympathy with this as we grew up on farms learning new things every day.

Being the very responsible parent is the most important aspect of having children around the workplace and that means knowing where the children are every moment. Teach them good habits as they will copy you as the parent, wear the helmets, use all recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and tell them about the dangers that you experience. It is important to remember that if you are undertaking some task, no matter how simple, it also requires your 100% attention as the children do at the same time – makes it difficult!!

Teaching children to ride motorbikes and drive vehicles on the farm can be undertaken is what is described as a “Recreation Area“. The recreation area can be a paddock that is used to drive or ride in where there are NO farming activities taking place, and it can vary each day depending on what is happening. NO farming activity means exactly that, no livestock in the area, no weed spraying being done in the paddock while the children ride the quad bike around and no other farming activity, it is all just recreation; make sure you have identified all hazards such as loose and broken fence wires, stray electric fence standards and any bull holes that may be in the recreation area.

Some notes of assistance:
1.Try and have a spouse, partner or a supervisor supervising the children while the children observe what is happening on the farm. The supervising person should be able to explain to the child what is happening and why. The supervisor must be familiar with the farms safety policy.
2. If using separate rooms or offices for the children during milking etc, ensure the children cannot open the door from the inside. You need to know they are safe and secure.
3.If teaching them to ride a motorbike or quad-bike, ensure they are riding a machine that is the right size for them.
4.Know the regulations around driving and riding on tractors. The Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016 require that a PCBU with management or control of a workplace ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no worker aged less than 15 years drives or rides on a tractor. However, this does not apply to a worker aged 12 years or over who drives on a tractor if the tractor is being used for agriculture work; and the young worker is to be fully trained, or being trained, in the safe operation of the tractor and the safe use of any implement being towed by it.
5. Make sure they comply with all PPE needs, bike helmets, safety belts, goggles and gloves and proper footwear.
Remember the workplace, including the farm, is not a baby-sitting service.

Take care, look after the children and stay safe also remember that many non-farming adults should be treated in the same way as children when on the farm!!!

AgSafe NZ Ltd is an independent health & safety provider who will prepare policies for your farm business.

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James Findlay

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