The dangers to children on a farm or in a rural setting are too big to be ignored. Unlike many other industries, there are no minimum work standards for child labor on most farms; fewer than five percent of farms are governed by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA). Children are allowed to work in any capacity on a farm owned by their parents, regardless of age. Even children visiting hobby farms and pumpkin patches face dangers, like in the case of a twelve-year-old girl killed this summer in Kansas.
Children at Risk
A child helping out on the family farm has been part of the American fabric since the beginnings of colonists relocating to the New World. Even now, the traditional school year still follows the old harvest calendar. These days, the advent of huge farm machinery and sophisticated chemicals has upped the stakes for children who live and work around farm settings. Boys are at greatest risk, accounting for a staggering 80 percent of farm related deaths in children under age 15. Other dangers are realities of rural life in general. In fact, up to half of all agricultural injuries involve children who do not live on a farm, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign (NSKC) Rural Injury Fact Sheet.
Children (and boys especially) are often perceived as capable of doing the work of adults in a farm or rural setting. As they grow up, their developing abilities belie the fact that their judgment, coordination, and strength are not equal to that of an adult farm worker. Unfortunately, these erroneous conclusions lead to needless injuries, preventable deaths, and in the case of parents whose decisions led to the severe injury or death of their child, guilt and regret that might last the rest of their lives.
The Danger of Drowning Farm ponds, irrigation ditches and canals can all pose risk for drowning on the farm. Fifty-seven percent of rural drowning victims die in fresh water. Unsecured water sources and inadequate parental supervision are often factors in deaths. All age groups are affected by rural water dangers. The risk of drowning is three times higher for anyone in a rural rather than an urban setting. Children should be supervised around water, regardless of the source. It only takes a small amount for drowning to occur.
Combines, tractors, power take-off equipment, and other farming tools are often left to the use and operations of older children and teens. Unfortunately, all of these farm life necessities pose a real danger of serious injury to children around the farm. In some cases, tragic deaths have occurred when small children have been allowed in close proximity to these noisy, powerful, threatening machines.
Sitting in the back of a pickup bed or riding around without a seat belt are things that are just "done in the country." Sixty percent of automobile related fatalities occur in the country. The highways in rural areas alone pose more dangers than in suburban areas, as road conditions are often very poor on rural highways. Additionally, the greater distance from emergency services can also factor into the equation when life and death are on the line.
Large farm vehicles and farming equipment put roadways through a lot of wear and tear. These slow moving, large vehicles also make driving in the country treacherous. Rural motorists that meet these monstrosities on narrow roadways and along two lane highways face the risk of accidents as other drivers attempt to pass these vehicles in an unsafe manner.
Cows, horses, and other livestock are common fixtures on farms and rural properties. For rural horse enthusiasts, the risk of head injury is high. Thousands of children under the age of 14 are injured from equestrian related incidents every year. In 2002 alone, 13,400 children were seen in emergency rooms from horse related accidents.
Children in rural settings must be watched at all times. Farm work is not child's play. Children should never be allowed or expected to perform tasks that are beyond the scope of their skills, size, or experience. Farming equipment should never be left to a young child or teenager to operate. All vehicle safety measures should be observed, including seat belt laws, and laws regarding passengers in the back of a pickup bed. Anytime a child is around horses or other livestock, parents should insist that children follow common sense safety rules. Helmets and other safety gear must be worn every time. Children, including teens, should never be left with horses or any livestock without adequate supervision.
Has Your Child Been Injured By The Negligence Of Others?
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