Safety & Health for Youth in Agriculture

by Chris Coplan

More than two million youth under the age of 20 are exposed to agriculture related hazards each year, according the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This National Farm Safety and Health Week, COUNTRY Financial® and the Illinois Farm Bureau are urging farmers and their families to shift safety into high gear.

“While agriculture offers many opportunities for youth to develop skills and learn responsibility, farms can be dangerous places,” says Collin White, State Secretary for Illinois FFA. “Youth should only be assigned age appropriate tasks, they should always be supervised by an adult, and they should be provided with personal protective equipment.”

Because the planting season was unusual, farmers could be harvesting for lengthier hours and over a longer period, while possibly under stress considering 2019 farm outcomes. It is important for everyone to shift safety into high gear to avoid agriculture related incidents.

“Most farms in Illinois are family-owned and operated,” says Eric Vanasdale, Loss Control Supervisor for COUNTRY Financial. “It can be a dangerous place to live and work. Farmers should ensure their youth are educated on farm safety and programs like 4-H and FFA are great resources for that.”

Here are some steps farm families can take to remain safe this harvest season:

  1. Don’t let youth ride on tractors or mowers. Even though it’s fun, extra passengers on heavy machinery can interfere with the safety of its operation.
  2. Reexamine farm tasks to ensure they are age appropriate. Understanding the developmental stages of children is a crucial factor in implementing appropriate safety procedures to prevent serious farm incidents. 
  3. Lead by example. Youth are more likely to practice safety on the farm when they see their parents and older siblings working in a safe way.

COUNTRY Financial® is the marketing name for the COUNTRY Financial family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY), which include COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, Illinois.