Quad bikes are the leading cause of injury and death on Australian farms outnumbering tractor fatalities almost two to one. Deaths due to roll over account for about half of the quad bike fatalities and 90 per cent of these occur on farms. Nationally there were 21 quad bike related fatalities in 2013, 19 in 2012 and 20 fatalities in 2011.
Worksafe WA worked on this issue by investigating what information suppliers gave to buyers about the safe operation of the quad bike.
The investigation involved a regional inspector, familiar with quad bike risks on farms, who then provided advice to suppliers at an agricultural field day.
The inspector also asked the suppliers the following questions:
- How did the sales person assist in determining the client’s needs regarding quad bike size?
- What safety information was supplied to purchasers at the point of sale?
- What information were purchasers given about quad bike attachments?
- Were purchasers encouraged to purchase approved helmets at the point of sale?
The inspector found all the quad bike suppliers:
- Had a clear understanding of the inherent dangers of quad bikes when operated at speed, particularly on rough terrain or slopes.
- Considered the inherent dangers of quad bikes during discussions with prospective buyers.
- Promoted the use of helmets to reduce the risks from roll overs, falls, or low branches.
- Understood their duty of care to the buyer, and advised them of the hazards of operating quad bikes, with some suppliers having a formal documented system in place.
- Agreed most accidents, injuries and fatalities were caused by the operator’s poor understanding of the physics of motion and stability, risk-taking behaviour and the addition of loads to the quad bike.
- Agreed the addition of roll over protection could save lives.
Quad bike protective systems and devices were also discussed with suppliers. All of the suppliers agreed that the addition of roll-over protection could be beneficial but they were concerned about the adequacy of the after-market products available. They noted the current designs of Roll Over Protective Systems (ROPS) or Crush Protection Devices (CPD) do not appear adequate as the operators are unrestrained.
Where roll over incidents are a concern, side-by-side vehicles were recommended. These vehicles are designed with factory fitted ROPS which have a combination of roll bars/cage and seatbelts. Those companies supplying side-by-side vehicles reported they promoted them as a safer alternative to the quad bike.
WorkSafe WA is continuing to liaise with stakeholders over the issue of quad bike safety in agricultural situations, and is undertaking further action to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities related to quad bike use.
For more information on this project visit The Department of Commerce WA.