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Buckeye Farm News 

Chances are as a kid, you didn’t wear a helmet when you rode your bike. But it’s probably something you expect of your children these days. Likewise, if you grew up in rural America, you may have ridden on the tractor alongside your dad. Or maybe you learned to drive one yourself (possibly while still in grade school). And you may have never experienced an incident where your safety was threatened.

Funny thing is, even after we realize that certain practices aren’t sensible, family “traditions” tend to live on. But sometimes they shouldn’t.

If you’re employing teens or younger kids on the farm this summer – related or not – Nationwide Agribusiness urges you to keep their safety foremost in mind.

Caution: hazardous work!

Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the nation for young workers. In 2006, 30 youngsters under age 18 died from work-related injuries. Another 52,000 sustained work-related injuries and illnesses that required treatment in hospital ERs. Unlike other industries, half of the young victims in agriculture are under age 15, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

In non-agricultural work environments, there are many regulations that specify appropriate work for minor workers. However, some of these laws don’t apply for youngsters working on their family farms. Parents may use age to gauge whether a specific ag-related task is appropriate for their child. But safety experts advise against the practice, due to wide variations in children’s growth and development – along with the diversity of agricultural practices.

Instead, many experts urge adults to match up a child’s physical and mental abilities with the tasks to determine whether work is appropriate. That’s the thinking at the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, which has developed a set of guidelines to assist adults in assigning safe and appropriate farm jobs for children ages 7 to 16.

The center conducted a job hazard analysis on a variety of tasks commonplace on farms and created a framework specifying the hazards associated with each job and:

  • Related injuries/illnesses
  • Recommended procedures
  • Approximate age capabilities
  • Level of adult supervision required
  • Training required

Visit page=nagcat_guidelines to review the list of ag-related tasks, and download checklists that specify the specific cognitive and psychological abilities required for each job. The guides are colorful and reader-friendly, and serve as an excellent resource in helping you pinpoint appropriate work expectations that offer minimal risk of agricultural-related disease or injury to young workers.

Also, check out the U.S. Wage and Hour division’s (U.S. Labor Department) Fact Sheet #40: Federal Youth Employment Laws in Farm Jobs. Included is a list of hazardous occupations in agriculture that workers under age 16 should not perform. Find the sheet at

Your state may also have specific laws related to youth employment. When they conflict, the stricter of the laws generally applies. Find more information on your state’s department of labor Web site.

Contributed by Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance, part of the Nationwide family of companies. To learn how Nationwide’s family can serve your family with quality insurance coverages, many with Farm Bureau discounts, contact a local agent representing Nationwide Insurance or Allied Insurance. You can locate an agent at


Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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