QuadWatch is an Australian Government initiative to bring together industry, manufacturers, quad bike users, community organisations, and government to raise awareness of quad bike safety.
QuadWatch aims to raise awareness of safe quad bike practices to provide farmers, quad bike users and the community with practical information and assistance to help minimise risk of a quad bike fatality or injury.
Quad bike review
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is conducting a safety investigation into quad bikes. On 22 March, the ACCC released a Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement which outlines five options to improve the safety of quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles. Submissions closed on 4 May 2018. A final recommendation will be provided to the Minister when the ACCC has examined all the evidence and finalised options to improve quad bike safety. For more information, visit the ACCC website.
Quad bike fatalities: a snapshot
In the eight years from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2018:
- There were 128 quad bike fatalities in Australia.
- Almost 11% (14 fatalities) were children aged 11 years of age or under and more than one‑third (43 fatalities) were adults aged 60 years and over.
- Almost half (62 fatalities) were workers.
- Over half (77 fatalities) of all fatalities were the result of a rollover and 78 fatalities occurred on a farm or property. Of the 128 fatalities at least 76 were due to unstable or uneven terrain, for example an incline, ditch, embankment, sand, mud.
Read more quad bike fatality data.
Quad bike rules and regulations
Quad bikes used for work are regulated under model WHS laws as plant. The model Work Health and Safety Act states that people who manage or control plant at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant is safe. There are obligations to ensure workers are trained, supervised and provided with appropriate information and personal protective equipment to ensure their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable.
The WHS Act also places duties on designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant that is used or may be used at a workplace to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant is without risks to health and safety.
The model WHS Regulations have specific requirements for powered mobile plant, which apply to quad bikes. They require the person in charge to manage the risk of the quad bike overturning, and to provide, so far as is practicable, suitable operator protector devices.
Road rules for each jurisdiction also apply if the quad bike is ridden on public roads.
Work being done nationally to improve quad bike safety
Recent coronial reports into the death of quad bike users recommended governments work together to develop a consumer safety quad bike rating system.
In late 2016, the Australian Government established an interdepartmental committee (IDC) to pursue national initiatives to improve quad bike safety, including to consider coronial recommendations. The IDC is chaired by the Department of Employment and includes representatives from:
- the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
- the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
- the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Safe Work Australia, and
- the Commonwealth, state and territory work health and safety regulators represented by SafeWork NSW, WorkSafe Victoria and WorkSafe Tasmania.
New South Wales
Eligible farmers may receive:
- Up to $1000 for each agricultural side-by-side vehicle.
- Up to $500 for each Quadbar™ or ATV Lifeguard Operator Protective Device.
- Up to $90 for each compliant helmet.
Eligible farm workers may receive:
- Up to $90 for a compliant helmet.
- Anyone who works for an eligible farmer is also eligible for a place in the free regional and remote training program, which comes with a compliant helmet
More information can be found on SafeWork NSW’s website.
Eligible farmers may receive:
- $1200 for the purchase of an alternate vehicle such as a side-by-side vehicle or a small utility vehicle.
- Up to $600 for the purchase of up to two approved operator protection devices. The devices that currently meet the approved criteria are the Quadbar™ and the ATV Lifeguard. The total rebate available is $1200 for two devices.
More information can be found on WorkSafe Victoria’s website.
Coronial inquest findings
NSW Deputy Coroner’s Inquest into nine deaths caused by Quad Bike accidents
An inquest into nine quad bike related deaths in NSW was held by the Deputy State Coroner, Sharon Freund. The State Coroner’s Court of NSW released the findings of the inquest on 26 November 2015.
The Deputy State Coroner made recommendations in the areas of a quad bike safety rating system, Australian Standards for quad bikes, training and licensing, helmet use and standards, crush protection devices, seatbelts use for side-by side vehicles, personal locator beacons, children and quad bikes, advertising and educational campaigns and police investigations.
QLD Deputy Coroner’s Inquest into nine deaths caused by Quad Bike accidents
An inquest into quad bike related deaths in Queensland was held by the Deputy State Coroner, John Lock. The QLD Coroner’s Court released the findings of the inquest on 3 August 2015.
The Coroner stated ‘the evidence gathered during this multiple inquest raises many issues about the safety of quad bikes, including the importance of active riding; good mechanical maintenance; use of correct tyre pressure; use of helmets; disallowing children to ride adult sized quad bikes; understanding the limitations of the vehicle; and that tragic incidents can occur in quite benign conditions’.
New Zealand Inquest into quad bike fatalities
An inquiry into the death of a quad bike user on a New Zealand farm in 2014 was held by Coroner Brigitte Windley. The NZ Coroner released the findings of the inquiry on 9 August 2017.
The Coroner made recommendations in the areas of quad bike safety rating system, crush protection devices, rebate and subsidy schemes for rider training and the purchase and fitting of rollover protection devices, and the purchase of alternative vehicles. The Coroner also suggested a working group be convened and consider a whole-of-government approach to the recommendations made by the coroner.
News and media
- 7 December 2018 – Push to save lives with quad bike controls – The West Australian
- 29 November 2018 – Teen dies in quad bike accident on farm – Contryman, Perth
- 28 November 2018 – QLD: Quad bike fatality while back-burning – Safety Institute of Australia
- 15 August 2018 – Quad bike farm fatality – The Morning Bulletin
- 10 August 2018 – On-farm accidents remain high despite attention – Warrnambool Standard
- 4 August 2018 – Long road to recovery after serious injuries leave Bruce Couch with no memory of quad bike accident – Warrnambool Standard
- 3 August 2018 – Brush with death leads to safety call on 'dangerous' quad bikes – The Courier
- 31 July 2018 – Rider seriously injured in quad bike rollover – SafetyCulture OHS News
- 31 July 2018 – Farming: Quad bike safety goes digital – Sunraysia Daily
- 30 July 2018 – Focus on farm safety ‘everyday’ – Goondiwindi Argus
- 29 July 2018 – Anytime is a good time for farm safety – The Land
- 29 July 2018 – AgForce launches quad bike safety course – South Burnett
- 26 July 2018 – Quad bike virtual reality experience launched – SafetyCulture OHS News
- 25 July 2018 – Quad bike safety goes virtual – Farm Machinery Sales
- 20 July 2018 – AgForce calls for quad bike safety rebate program – SafetyCulture OHS News
- 3 October 2018 – Rebate extended for quad bike rollover protection – Warrnambool Standard
- 8 October 2018 – Staying safe on your off-road vehicles – The Weekly Times
Research reports and studies
Quad bikes in South Australia: an investigation of their use, crash characteristics and associated injury risks
In February 2016 the University of Adelaide's Centre for Automotive Safety Research released the study Quad bikes in South Australia: an investigation of their use, crash characteristics and associated injury risks. The study, sponsored by SafeWork SA, examines the circumstances of fatal and non-fatal quad bike incidents in South Australia.
The report’s recommendations include:
- encouraging farmers to trial and purchase side-by-side vehicles, which are more stable
- regulations to prevent children under the age of 16 from riding adult-sized quad bikes
- promoting the use of personal protective equipment, such as helmets, and
- developing helmets that provide protection, while being suitable for day-to-day work.
NSW Government research
In August 2015 the University of NSW Transport and Road Safety Unit (UNSW TARS) released results of the NSW Government funded Quad Bike Performance Project. As a strategy to reduce injuries and fatalities from quad-bike use on farms, the Quad Bike Performance Project conducted by researchers from UNSW TARS aims to develop a consumer safety rating system for quad bikes.
The five major project reports are available on the University of NSW - Transport and Road Safety website.
Our Guide for managing the risks of machinery in rural workplaces and Quad bikes in rural workplaces Information Sheet provide advice on selecting the most appropriate vehicle for farm needs, information on crush protection devices, rider training, personal protective equipment, and the hazards that should be considered when selecting risk controls.
Related sites for additional quad bike information
- The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety
- FarmSafe Australia
- Monash University Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
- Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries
- New Zealand Worksafe - Quad bike safety
SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about quad bike safety and compliance. If you need help, please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority.