Guidelines to Help Select Age-Appropriate Farm Tasks for Youth

  From the March 12, 2018 Issue of Agri-News
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 Children play an active role on many farms and ranches and are often eager to work alongside their family members. Janice Donkers, farm safety youth coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) explains why the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) is a helpful resource for parents, grandparents, and caregivers.

“In Alberta between 1990 and 2013, there was a total of 75 agricultural-related fatalities of children under the age of 15. This is an average of three deaths per year,” says Donkers.

Facing similar statistics in the United States, the National Children’s Centre for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety created the NAGCAT booklet to help parents and caregivers assess their child’s readiness. “The guidelines focus on youth aged 7-16 and contains decision-making information for common farm chores,” outlines Donkers.

Since every child grows and develops at their own pace, age and physical size are not the best indicators of readiness when it comes to performing agricultural work. Each task has a flowchart to follow, with an explanation to consider why the timing may not be right for a child to take on a particular task.

Donkers further explains, “Tasks are clearly identified and include a description of the main hazards and required safety gear. There are lists for the adult responsibilities and for determining the right amount of supervision.” Adequate training in age-appropriate tasks, paired with the right level of supervision is key to preventing injuries.

Though the use of the guidelines is completely voluntary, Donkers says, “NAGCAT’s popularity comes from how it was developed and how the information is presented. Extensive input was gathered from farming parents, teen workers, and injury prevention professionals from across North America.”

The NAGCAT guidelines are now widely used by parents and organizations across Alberta to help families make informed decisions about age-appropriate and safe work for their children.

Parents, caregivers, health or safety professionals, and educators can obtain a free copy of the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks by contacting and visiting the Alberta Farm Safety Program website.

Ag Safety Week is March 11 to 17, 2018.

Janice Donkers

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Janice Donkers.
This document is maintained by Christine Chomiak.
This information published to the web on March 5, 2018.