Farmers urged to consider quad bike risks this National Farm Safety Week
Seven people, including children, have been killed this year as a result of quad bike accidents, according to Safe Work Australia (SWA). This National Farm Safety Week, SWA is urging farmers to be aware of the risks associated with using quad bikes.
Quad bikes are a major cause of death and serious injury in rural workplaces, with most incidents involving rollovers. In fact, all quad bike-related deaths this year so far have involved rollovers. Rollover risk increases when quad bikes travel across slopes, rocky or uneven ground or at high speed. It also increases when bikes are towing an attachment or carrying a heavy or unstable load.
To prevent quad bike-related incidents, SWA advises that users and supervisors should check that the quad bike is the right vehicle for the job and that the rider is physically capable of an active riding style — potentially over a long period. This is especially important for older people and children who may not have the capacity to continually shift their body weight and maintain control of the bike. In these cases, side-by-side vehicles may be more appropriate as the operator stays seated and generally has rollover protection structures as well as restraints such as seatbelts. Motorbikes may also be good for some tasks given their mobility and light weight.
Operators and supervisors should also consider whether towing attachments or carrying loads will affect stability and handling, the type of terrain the bike will be used over and whether the bike will be carrying a passenger.
SWA warned that most quad bikes are designed for one rider and that passengers should never be carried on these quad bikes. Additionally, users should be trained in active riding techniques and the risks associated with using quad bikes and related equipment.
Riders should also always wear appropriate, properly fitting helmets, particularly when using a public road. Helmets should comply with AS/NZS 1698:2006: Protective helmets for vehicle users or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 22.05 (UNECE22-05). Finally, quad bikes should be fitted with operator protective devices (OPDs), according to SWA and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
“Since 2001 over 230 Australians have died in quad bike-related incidents. More than half of deaths caused by quad bikes are a result of a rollover, typically crushing or asphyxiation, which OPDs prevent,” the NFF said.
“We strongly believe that having OPDs fitted would prevent many deaths and injuries from quad bike rollovers,” Rural Doctors Association of Australia President Dr Adam Coltzau added.
To help farmers improve bike safety, New South Wales, Victorian and Tasmanian work health and safety regulators are offering farmers and their workers up to $2000, depending on the state, to install approved operator/rollover/crush protection devices or purchase a side-by-side or small utility vehicle with rollover protection and a fitted seatbelt. The NSW Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program is also offering rebates for AS/NZS1698:2006, NZS8600:2002 or UNECE22.05 compliant helmets.
National Farm Safety Week seeks to raise awareness about Australian farm safety issues and will run from 21–26 July. Farmsafe Australia is expected to post more information about farm-related hazards and risks throughout the week.
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