Kids Working On The Farm: How Young Is Too Young?

In the U.S. a child dies in an agriculture related incident every three days. In fact, according to the department of labor, for youth younger than 16 working in agriculture the number of fatal injuries is consistently higher than all other industries combined. These staggering statistics led the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety to revisit the guidelines for children working in agriculture. This is the first time in 20 years these recommendations have been updated.  

“Too many of these injuries and deaths are associated with youth performing agriculture work that does not match their development level and abilities,” says Marsha Salzwedel, project leader and youth agricultural safety specialist at the National Children’s Center. “These guidelines help parents and supervisors determine if a youth is able to safely perform various farm tasks.”

With help from an advisory committee consisting of groups from across the agriculture industry as well as agribusinesses, the first 20 of 50 task recommendations were released this summer. The revised guidelines suggest a child isn’t ready to drive a tractor until age 14 or a skid steer until age 16. The guidelines also don’t recommend children working with large animals until age 12.

Not only do the guidelines give parents a recommended age range for specific tasks, but a set of competencies as well. Read more of this story on AgWeb.