Long recognized as an especially dangerous work environment, farms are particularly hazardous to the children and adolescents who work and live on them.

With 113 people under 20 years of age killed annually on U.S. farms, and 15,011 injured, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is urging farm parents to follow the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) developed by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.

Based on child development principles, NAGCAT matches a child’s physical, mental, and psychosocial abilities with the requirements of specific farm work. NIOSH says NAGCAT has been shown to be successful in preventing and reducing injuries among farm families where the guidelines were actively disseminated.

In a study of central New York State farms, intervention farms made more safety-related changes than control farms, such as setting limits on the amount of time a child could perform work between breaks and delaying initiation of ATV-use. In the 0 to 19 year age group, the amount of time that lapsed before occurrence of a NAGCAT-preventable injury was significantly longer for the intervention group than the control group. Incidence of NAGCAT-preventable injuries decreased by half among seven to 19 year-olds on intervention farms versus control farms.

While hailing such improvements, NIOSH says the number of youth injuries and fatalities on farms continues to be a public health concern. “A multi-faceted prevention strategy that includes use of NAGCAT is recommended as the next step in further reducing childhood agricultural injuries,” according to the institute.

For information on NAGCAT, visit: www.nagcat.org/nagcat/