Reducing accidents on quad bikes
Why should people wear helmets?
Wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the seriousness of injuries suffered in a quad bike accident. Helmets can be the difference between walking away from an accident and suffering a life changing brain injury or dying.
Quad bike manufacturers recommend that riders wear a helmet. They are basic safety equipment and there are helmets specially designed for quad bikes.
In 40% of the fatal farm quad bike accidents investigated by the Department between 2000 and 2008 the victim had suffered some level of head injury.
Why shouldn’t kids ride adult quad bikes?
Generally children don’t have the strength, body weight and mental ability to master the active riding techniques need to safely control a quad bike.
This is reflected by the fact that the minimum age limit set by quad bike manufacturers on adult quad bikes (over 90cc) is 16 and older.
Farm kids grow up learning different skills from city kids. But that doesn’t mean their bodies or their minds are grown up enough to handle adult quad bikes.
Between 2000-2008 five children under 16 were killed in quad bike accidents on farms.
This is not about stopping farm kids helping out around the farm. It’s about stopping them from being injured and killed riding adult sized quad bikes.
If farmers want their kids to keep helping out they need to find another way for them to travel.
Why is it important that farmers ensure riders have enough training/experience?
Research shows that having no formal training contributes to the severity of quad bike injuries.
Before anyone rides your quad bikes assess their skills. If they need training the best option is a skill course.
Research shows that having no formal training contributes to the severity of the quad bike injuries. [Source: Shulruf B, Balemi A. Risk and preventative factors for fatalities in All terrain Vehicle accidents in NZ 2009]
What should people consider when choosing the right vehicle?
When considering if a quad bike is the right vehicle for the job pay close attention to what your quad bike owner’s manual says about maximum towing and carrying limits, and whether passengers can be carried. The vast majority of quad bikes used on New Zealand farms are designed for one rider and the manufacturers say they should not be used to carry passengers. If you need to carry passengers and your quad bike isn’t designed to do that, the safest option is to use another type of vehicle.
About 7% of serious farm quad bike accidents reported to the Department of Labour between 2000 and 2008 involved passengers. 10% involved towing.
Is it enough to just provide helmets for workers?
It is not enough for farmers to just provide helmets for workers and others who ride their bikes. Farmers need to take steps to ensure that these helmets are worn.
What if my workers won’t wear a helmet, or take them off when I’m not around?
Your response should be the same as it would be if the worker did other serious things like consistently failed to turn up for work, or turned up drunk. If you take the issue seriously, so will they.
Clearly communicate to the worker that wearing a helmet prevents injury, and that helmets must be worn or disciplinary action will be taken.
You can use employment agreements to spell out that workers must comply with all health and safety requirements, including wearing helmets. The agreement can state that not complying with health and safety requirements would be considered serious misconduct and could result in disciplinary action, including their employment being ended.
Workers can also be reminded that it’s not just employers who can be prosecuted for not wearing a helmet. Employees also have a duty to keep themselves and others out of harm’s way, and the Department of Labour has prosecuted employees for failing to do this.
It is important that you lead by example - don’t expect your employees to wear a helmet if you don’t.
For more information about employment agreements and dealing with employment problems visit: Infozone: Business Essentials
Why aren’t you supporting/promoting roll bars?
Various roll-over-protection-devices (ROPs) have been designed and fitted to quad bikes over the past two decades. These attachments have not been approved by manufacturers of the vehicles, and manufacturers have openly expressed concern that the presence of ROPs increases the likelihood of serious harm if a quad bike should roll. A computer simulation study was commissioned by manufacturers to illustrate this effect. However, this study is not universally accepted, and the debate continues.
Until the issue is resolved, the Department will remain neutral on the issue of ROPs.
The Department is continuing to liaise with the manufacturers of both quad bikes and ROPs on this issue, by way of a trans-Tasman working group.
Why are you using your enforcement power?
The Department is taking this firmer approach because previous education campaigns have failed to bring down the quad bike toll on farms. For example, the Department ran farm safety campaigns in 2007 and 2008 that included quad bikes. But ACC data shows that the trend in injuries is not going down.
Research shows that farmers are aware of the steps that can prevent accidents but they fail to take them.
Our approach is to use the minimum amount of regulatory activity needed to achieve safe practices. In the case of quad bikes on farms information alone is not working and the Department will move to also use its enforcement powers.
What enforcement powers do you have?
The Department’s Inspectors have the authority to visit workplaces to assess safety and investigate accidents. The Department’s enforcement tools range from negotiating agreements for safety improvements, to issuing warning notices requiring improvements, to stopping use of dangerous equipment and in serious cases prosecution.
What is the legal situation?
There is no specific law covering helmets, training, rider age, passengers and towing/carrying limits on quad bikes.
However, when quad bikes are being used for work purposes – as they are on farms - they are covered by the Health and Safety in Employment Act. This Act requires employers to take “all practicable steps” to prevent employees and others from being harmed in their workplace.
For farm quad bikes, these steps would include following the manufacturers’ operating instructions. These instructions are in the owner’s manual that comes with every bike.
All manufacturers say helmets should be worn, riders should be trained, and children under 16 should not ride adult sized bikes. Most say passengers should not be carried. Owners’ also set maximum limits for towing and carrying loads.