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Tractor Safety And Kids

It’s good for kids to help out on the farm and to learn a good work ethic, but they shouldn’t be expected to do more than what they can do.

Aaron Yoder is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health at the University of Nebraska. He says there’s a resource called cultivatesafety.org that offers guidelines for parents on age appropriate tasks and how to teach them. Kids are usually chomping-at-the-bit to drive the tractor, but when to allow them to depends on many things such as abilities, skills, and age.

"The people that make federal regulations for the tractor safety class that we work with, they recommend the age of 14 if they’ve had specific training to operate full-size tractors, anything over 20 hp. When you look at lawn and garden tractors, riding mowers, and stuff like that, you can go a little younger," says Yoder. "But again, it depends on the child and it depends on their abilities."

You can teach kids how to drive a tractor and all the safety precautions that go with it, but they also need to learn a healthy respect for the machine. This can be more difficult because they don’t often think about the consequences of their actions. Yoder recommends showing them what can happen.

"I pull up cases of where youth were injured with machinery, and explain the cases of what happens," he says. "We find that a good educational approach for all ages is to have those personal stories, or to have examples. Not just say don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do that, but actually show them  examples of what could happen to start getting them to think about the consequences of wrong behaviors."

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