Children on farms

A farm can be a place where families work, live and play. But farms are also workplaces which present serious death and injury risks to children when they play, visit or work on farms.


Key risks

Children may not always be able to predict or respond to an unsafe situation.

Statistics show the main risks to the health and safety of children on farms are:

How to keep children safe on farms

The ways of controlling risks can be ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of risk control. Always start at the most effective control – Level 1, eliminate the hazard – and work down the hierarchy.

Reduce the risks

Some ways to reduce the risks include ensuring that:

  • there are boundaries between the home and the workplace
  • boundaries between safe and unsafe areas are defined
  • there are cattle free zones to avoid interactions with children and cattle
  • children always wear seatbelts in any moving vehicle
  • children are prevented from riding on tractors, attachments and on a trailer or the back of utes
  • safety guards are on all machinery
  • children always wear helmets when riding bikes or horses
  • doors/gates are kept shut or locked, and remove the keys, so children can't access unsafe areas
  • suitable storage systems are used for dangerous chemicals
  • children are prevented from lifting heavy items
  • where possible, your dams, ponds, septic tanks, sheep dips, pools and creeks are fenced off and you're talking about water safety with children
  • any bikes children ride, including motorbikes, are appropriate for their age and height and in line with manufacturers' specifications
  • training is provided, including the dangers of speeding and riding on uneven ground
  • you communicate what to do in an emergency, including where to go and who to call

Otway Milk: Looking after everyone on-farm

Children working on farms

Parents or guardians don't need a licence to employ their children in their family business, including farms.

The parent or guardian, or if they are unavailable, someone suitable over 18 years must always supervise children when they are performing work. Children must only be permitted to perform light work. When deciding what is light work, consider the child's age, sex, physical development, and maturity, as well as the where the work is being performed. A child may only be employed to perform light work, which is not likely to be harmful to their health, safety, wellbeing or development. The work must not affect their ability to attend school.

Legal responsibilities

As a farmer you may be self-employed, employ people, or manage and control a farm. You have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017. This includes ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that:

  • you provide and maintain a farm that is a safe working environment without risks to the health of your employees and contractors
  • you understand your workplace safety hazards and eliminate or reduce the risks to health and safety
  • your farm activities don't expose people other than employees and contractors (such as family or other visitors) to health and safety risks
  • that people, including those making deliveries on the farm, can enter and leave the farm safely, and without risk to their health
  • you consult with your employees and contractors about health and safety on your farm

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