A major Australian rural newspaper, The Weekly Times, has devoted its front page to an article on rollover protective devices on quad bikes. It has taken as the base new information released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS) through a media release. The new policy paper and the supporting Practical Management Guide acknowledge new research from independent engineers that has finally questioned the established knowledge base on the safety of quad bikes.
ACAHS has come to a position where it states:
“Farmers and other owners of quad bikes should be encouraged to fit suitably tested protective devices to reduce death and serious injury from rollovers.”
The Weekly Times includes a quote from Rhys Griffiths, a spokesperson for quad bike manufacturers through the Federation Chamber of Automotive Industries. Griffiths says
“Many so-called roll-over protection devices on the market actually present a greater potential risk than they do protection…”
This position has traditionally been based on the research work of American researcher, Zellner, (ACAHS provides an excellent bibliography of research material in the policy statement) but by not being absolute in his statement Griffiths allows the legitimate question, which ROPS does he believe are suitable? In the past, ROPS have not been an option so this current allowance may indicate a flexibility on this important safety issues by manufacturers.
What makes the 2011 revision of the practical management guide attractive and, increasingly, unique is that it is based on sound OHS principles and the application of the hierarchy of controls. The issue of reasonably practicable is not evident in the guide (although it will be unavoidable in the future when determining compliance).
The guidance is also good through its inclusion of side-by-side vehicles. This quad bike alternative has substantial safety benefits and it is hoped that increased demand will reduce cost to a more affordable level.
More discussion on quad bike safety at SafetyAtWorkBlog is available HERE.