Daddy, can I have a ride?’
“Riding on the tractor with Dad has been a long-standing tradition for many farm families,” said Janice Donkers, youth farm safety co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“It’s not uncommon to hear the older generations boast about how young they were when they first began riding on or operating farm machinery. However, you may want to think twice the next time your child asks to tag along.”
Machinery run-overs and rollovers account for the majority of fatalities among children. These types of agricultural accidents occur during play or work.
“An excellent way to help prevent these types of accidents is to instil the ‘One Seat, One Rider’ rule,” said Donkers. “Don’t carry more passengers on machinery or vehicles than recommended. Just like driving in a car, this ensures that everyone has a proper seatbelt. Extra riders can be thrown or fall from the cab, accidentally hit a lever or button, or even distract the operator.”
Although manufacturers are now including instructional seats in tractors, combines, and harvesters, their main purpose is to enhance the training of tractor operators.
“While this ‘buddy’ seat may seem like a great option to give a child a ride, the seat is not intentionally designed for children,” she said. “Agriculture production is fast paced, and many children experience injuries by simply being a bystander. Therefore, it’s good practice to continue to discourage children from riding in tractors and other farming equipment. By removing children from this dynamic work environment, the risk for potential injury is greatly decreased.”
Here are some other recommended safety practices:
- Always walk around your machinery or vehicle before starting the equipment. Children may be hiding in your blind spots.
- Never allow children to climb and play on or near farm equipment, even if it’s not in use.
- Always lock vehicles and machinery when you’re finished using them. Remove the keys and keep them out of reach of children.
- Equipment that may fall (such as hydraulic buckets and hoists) should always be left in the down position.
- Designate a safe play area with protected boundaries (such as a fence) that is far away from vehicle traffic and where machinery is operated or stored.
- Apply ‘No Play Area’ decals to all farm equipment as a visual reminder. (These decals are available free of charge through the Alberta Farm Safety Program by calling 310-FARM.)
“While it’s difficult to turn down a child from a seemingly innocent activity, it’s easier to bury a tradition than a child,” said Donkers. “Next time your child asks for a ride, explain the ‘One Seat, One Rider’ rule.”