Q: As harvest season gets underway, what farm tasks are considered safe — and particularly unsafe — for kids and teens?
A: Farm jobs considered to be appropriate for kids 12-13 include hand raking, digging, limited power-tool use, operating a lawn mower or garden tractor and handling or assisting with animals, according to the Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety.
For kids 14-15, the list expands to include equipment maintenance, manual livestock feeding, operating non-articulated tractors, raking hay and operating a pressure washer.
But age isn’t the only consideration. Parents should also consider such things as whether their kids can reach and operate the equipment controls while remaining seated and whether they have the strength to operate the controls. Also consider whether the child can use both hands and feet at the same time, if your child has a quick reaction time and good peripheral vision and if your child has successfully completed the task in mind four or five times under adult supervision, according to the Carle center.
Amy Rademaker, the center’s program coordinator, and other speakers will be offering safety pointers at another Progressive Agricultural Safety Days event today at Tolono’s Unity West Elementary.
Kids will learn about tractor, electrical, ATV, grain, roadway and chemical safety and be encouraged to take responsibility for their own safety, respect their parents’ safety rules and share the safety tips they learn with their families and friends.
Some of Rademaker’s safety tips for farm parents:
— Don’t bring babies (even babies in car seats) and kids to ride along with you on tractors and combines.
— Try to get adequate sleep to be alert on the job, and be mindful of blind spots.
— Never allow kids to play in grain.
The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of farm jobs considered to be particularly hazardous for kids and teens under age 16. Some include:
— Operating or helping operate a tractor exceeding 20 power-take-off horsepower, a corn picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyer and other farm machinery or such equipment as trenchers, fork lifts and power-driven saws.
— Working in a pen or stall occupied by a bull, boar, stud horse, breeding sow with suckling pigs or a cow with a newborn calf.
— Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height exceeding 20 feet high.