Last week, Honda quad bike dealers were supplied with the safety code provided by the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries. This code outlines research that shows some roll over protection (ROPS) devices may increase the risk of injury. A major ROPS identified in recent reports is the QuadBar, a device that may be “set to become an industry standard” for quad bike safety according to one media report.
Last week, SafetyAtWorkBlog heard that some Honda quad bike dealers, who also stock the QuadBar, feared that the distribution of the FCAI Industry paper was an indication that the continued stocking of the QuadBar may threaten the retention of their Honda dealership.
In this week’s Weekly Times one Honda dealer has outlined the confusion that the distribution of the code has generated, given that OHS authorities and agricultural organisations are actively advocating for the installation of ROPS devices.
The newspaper also reports that Rhys Griffiths from FCAI disputes the safety reputation of the QuadBar, a reputation backed by research by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (AgHealth) , has criticised WorkSafe Victoria for recommending ROPS for quad bikes while research is not yet completed and that the code was distributed to ensure dealers are well-informed on the quad bike safety issue.
[SafetyAtWorkBlog’s request to FCAI for a copy of the industry paper some time ago was declined]
Most OHS regulators are tired dealing with the recurrent and unnecessary deaths and injuries of workers who ride quad bikes but have to recommend safety based on evidence, which WorkSafe Victoria claims to have done.
When contradictory evidence is provided, confusion results and, currently in Australia, quad bike dealers are in the middle of a safety dispute not of their making.
This dispute needs a circuit breaker – an independent authority to undertake a thorough literature review and to make a decision, a decision that does not simply recommend the need for further research. The decision must be based on the best information that is currently available. Yes, this may result in a short-term position on quad bike safety but at least there will be a position. Further research may reverse this recommendation, as research can do, but at least there is a reference point that will ease the confusion of quad bike dealers and users.
AgHealth may have hoped that its recent research would be such a circuit breaker but that has proved not to be the case. Although Safe Work Australia is busy at the moment with OHS harmonisation, it should consider stepping into the role as it has no direct regulatory power. Someone, somewhere needs to show some leadership to establish a base for decision-making on the issue of quad bike safety.