Protect Our Youth

Keeping kids safe on ATVs and tractors stressed during National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 16-22.

Ask anyone in rural Missouri if they know someone who has been injured or killed in a farm-related accident and the answer is likely to be yes.

Agriculture is one of our most dangerous industries, says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri safety specialist. As the busy harvest season begins, this year’s message from the National Safety Council’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 16-22, is “It’s Easier to Bury a Tradition than a Child.”

Accidents related to riding on or operating tractors and riding all-terrain vehicles are the two most common causes of farm-related accidents involving children or young people. “Never allow children to ride as extra passengers on tractors, lawn mowers and other farm equipment,” she stresses. “Also, do not let a young person operate a tractor unless they’re mature enough, have the physical capability and are versed in operational safety.”

All tractors should be fitted with a rollover protection structure. Operators should wear seat belts on tractors fitted with ROPS so that they will stay in place in case of a rollover. Never use a seatbelt on a tractor not fitted with an ROPS.

While the number of ATV-related injuries and deaths has declined in recent years, in 2005 there were 120 ATV-related deaths of children under the age of 16, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

ATV riders should wear helmets; eye protection; nonskid, closed-toe shoes; long pants; and long-sleeved shirts. Never ride on public roads or at night. Funkenbusch also recommends that farm families attend an ATV driver’s safety course.

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