Devon children warned of farm dangers

Children across Devon are being urged to stay away from playing on or around farms this summer while on school holidays or risk serious injury or even death. The warning comes as rural insurer Cornish Mutual launches a new safety awareness drive whilst t

Children across Devon are being urged to stay away from playing on or around farms this summer while on school holidays or risk serious injury or even death.

The warning comes as rural insurer Cornish Mutual launches a new safety awareness drive whilst the company continues its tour of top agricultural shows around the region over the next few months.

Slurry pits, large machinery, farm animals and grain stores are some of the dangers being highlighted by the firm with figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showing that over the last ten years 31 children under the age of 16 years old were killed in the agricultural sector, as well as a further 12 between the ages of 16 and 18. Many have also suffered serious injuries such as leg amputations or serious burns.

The most common causes of death and major injury include falling from vehicles, being hit by moving vehicles or objects, contact with machinery, falls from height, drowning or contact with animals.

"Agriculture has one of the highest fatal accident rates of all industries in the South West," says Philip Wilson, Devon, Dorset and Somerset Area Business Development Manager for Cornish Mutual.

He adds: "As farms are homes as well as workplaces, children are often around and every year there are serious injuries or sometimes tragically deaths. With the warm weather, there will be many youngsters playing outside during the summer months and farms can be a real draw."

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Providing secure play areas, keeping farm yards clear and tidy and ensuring stores, machinery and chemicals are stored away and locked when not in use are some of the ways in which farmers can reduce the risks according to Cornish Mutual, the only general insurer based in the South West.

Ian Shears who runs an organic farm near Topsham offers educational visits to schools and is aware of the importance of reducing risks to children: "At Highfield farm we've looked carefully at every area to reduce risk as much as possible whilst still letting the children enjoy their farm visit.

"We have created safe areas where children can have their lunch with no hazards like machinery or traffic. We always talk to the children and teachers as soon as they arrive about safety.

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