Comcare comments on quad bike advisory

Considerable discussion has resulted in the quad-bike safety fraternity following the blog article about Comcare’s safety alert on 22 January 2010.  Below is an official comment on the article.

“Comcare is aware that a number of organisations in the Federal jurisdiction use quad bikes and are concerned some may be using them inappropriately without necessarily understanding the risks.

Following a number of incidents both inside and outside Comcare’s jurisdiction over the past few years, and comments made by the Victorian Coroner in relation to recent inquests involving the use of quad bikes, Comcare decided to make this information available for Commonwealth and related operators of quad bikes in the Federal jurisdiction to consider in the interim until formal guidance is developed.  Please note that, while Comcare supports broader safety concerns, Comcare’s jurisdictional interest relates to work use, not recreational use, and it is noted that our employers do not employ minors.”

Issuing safety information about a hazard before it manifests in one’s own patch is a good preventative move.

The safety points in the alert were for “consideration” and they should  cause operators to reassess their use of the vehicles.  More formal guidance on quad-bikes will always be welcome and this could possibly be in a cross-jurisdictional format similar to the tractor safety guide issued by the WorkSafe WA in the last week.

The quad-bike safety guide soon to be issued by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries will be of considerable interest, particularly as, SafetyAtWorkBlog believes, there was no direct input into the document by any of the Australian OHS regulators.  Yes, it is an industry-based and generated code of practice but the best safety guidances are created through the broadest of consultation with a variety of stakeholders.

(A range of quad-bike safety material is available through United States’ National Ag Safety Database, but consider the information from your own jurisdiction first)

The fact that Comcare’s jurisdiction is limited does not restrict the relevance of its safety advice.  If an organisation under federal jurisdiction should consider the installation of ROPS, then the same consideration should be applied in other workplaces where the equipment is being used.

What the safety alert and Comcare’s comments above reinforce is the importance of several safety actions:

  • Assess the need for equipment before purchasing.
  • Research the purchase options and consult widely.
  • Avoid introducing hazards, inadvertently, into the workplace.
  • Treat work equipment as work equipment.
  • Provide a formal induction to anyone using work equipment, even if they are family.
  • Consider including such equipment as quad bikes and tractors as part of other vehicle safety policies and procedures for consistency.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

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