Safety warning issued for quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles

Monday, 25 March, 2024

Safety warning issued for quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles

SafeWork NSW has urged farmers to wear seatbelts, use helmets and choose the right vehicle when using side-by-side vehicles, quad bikes and motorcycles, following a spate of recent incidents where people, including children, were seriously injured or killed while using farm vehicles.

The most recent incident occurred on 14 February at Coonamble, when a 37-year-old man and a four-year-old suffered serious injuries after they were ejected from a quad bike. Initial investigations by SafeWork NSW found that neither was wearing a helmet. SafeWork is also investigating three fatalities that have occurred since 1 January, including an incident on 8 January in Goohli, in which a side-by-side vehicle driven by an adult with two child passengers rolled into a dam, trapping and causing the death of one of the child occupants. Initial enquiries indicate that none of the occupants may have been wearing their seatbelts.

In a separate incident on 25 January in Narromine, a 51-year-old man died after being ejected from a moving side-by-side vehicle while undertaking farm-related work. Initial enquiries suggest that the seatbelt was not being worn. On 1 February, a 32-year-old female contractor was thrown from a motorbike and suffered fatal injuries on a property 120 km east of Tibooburra while not wearing a helmet.

Since 2001, there have been more than 56 deaths in NSW from quad bike incidents. A further 20 people have died on side-by-side vehicles. Rollovers can occur even at low speeds and on flat terrain, leaving riders trapped or crushed under the quad bike. SafeWork has issued a reminder for people using side-by-side vehicles to use all available safety features, including wearing seatbelts and helmets that will help protect operators from fatal or serious injuries in case of rollover.

SafeWork has advised farmers that use quad bikes to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly relating to load limits and keeping loads balanced. Heavy or unstable loads like chemical tanks for spraying can affect braking, alter the centre of gravity and make the vehicle difficult to control and more prone to rollover.

Trent Curtin, Head of SafeWork NSW, said SafeWork inspectors will be taking a zero-tolerance approach and issuing notices and fines if they come across workers operating side-by-side vehicles not wearing seatbelts or operating quad bikes without wearing helmets.

“A quad bike can weigh 400 kilos and reach speeds of more than 50 kilometres per hour. They are extremely dangerous and are certainly not a machine a child under the age of 16 should ever operate or be a passenger on. The safety features on your vehicle could save your life. It is an unnecessary tragedy when workers operating vehicles with numerous safety features including rollover protective structures and seatbelts lose their lives by simply not wearing their seatbelt,” Curtin said.

Image credit: Gorlov

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