At least 33 children are seriously injured in an agriculture-related incident each day and about every three days, a child dies as a result of a farm injury, according to statistics compiled by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.
To aid in keeping youth on farms safe, agricultural safety experts from Penn State Extension, Ohio State Extension and the National Safety Council have developed the “National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation: Student Manual.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor requires youth younger than age 16 who wish to work on a nonfamily-owned farm to complete training and earn certification to operate farm equipment,” said Peggy Newel, who coordinates the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program at Penn State. “This student manual is a key component of the training and is a must-read for any youth working in agriculture.”
In 1968, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was amended to include the Hazardous Occupations Order for Agriculture. This order established the age for employment in agriculture as 16 years of age or 14 and 15 years of age with special training.
The order also identified hazardous operations and farm tasks, such as operating a tractor over 20 horsepower and operating other specific farm machinery including, but not limited to, a corn picker, combine, hay baler, feed grinder, forklift or power post-driver.
Now in its third edition, the student manual provides in-depth information on what youth can expect when working on a farm, safety basics, agricultural hazards, how to operate a tractor, and how to handle materials, among other topics.
The latest edition also features updated regulations and vibrant and detailed illustrations and photos. Newel noted that the content and design are more user-friendly than past editions.
While the manual is required for National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program training courses, it is available to any adult or young person who wants to learn more about agricultural safety. The manual can be purchased online at https://extension.psu.edu/nstmop-manual or by calling 877-345-0691.