HSA defends decision to ban children from tractors
The HSA has defended its move to ban children under the age of seven from farm tractors, following criticism of the rules by members of the OIreachtas Committee on Agriculture.
At a special hearing on farm safety by the committee last week, HSA CEO Martin O'Halloran said that the authority had picked seven years as the cut off since the make-up of a child's skull up to this age made it more prone to injury in an accident.
In front of a full house, he also claimed that young children in a tractor cab could be tempted into accidently activating implements or the tractor itself via the many touch-button controls that exist in modern tractors.
In addition, the HSA officials stressed during the two-hour session the importance of avoiding a situation where children are drawn towards a farmyard when they hear a tractor operating to get a "spin".
HSA statistics show that the vast majority of children killed in farm accidents involve a tractor or machine attached to a tractor.
Farm Contractors Ireland (FCI) secretary Peter Farrelly described the regulations when they were announced before Christmas as a "disaster".
"I'd feel far happier with the child in the tractor cab than running the risk of them sneaking out of the house and coming down to the farmyard unsupervised," said the Meath-based contractor.