On 12 June 2010, SafetyAtWorkBlog noted the spokesperson for the National Farmers Federation, Duncan Fraser, supporting the voluntary fitting of roll protection devices to quadbikes in specific circumstances. On 20 June 2011, the New South Wales Farmers Federation’s Industrial Relations Committee Chair Graham Morphett has spoken in favour of “the mandatory fitting of roll bars” to quad bikes.
This is an extraordinary blow to the quad bike manufacturers who are set against rollover protection structures (ROPS) or crush protection devices (CPDs) for quad bikes.
Morphett’s comments deserve a little more analysis.
“Quad bikes can be extremely unstable on uneven farm terrain. Manufacturers have a responsibility to improve the design of the vehicles to ensure their safety. No quad bike should be sold without a roll over bar,” he said
SafetyAtWorkBlog has criticised manufacturers for not developing new designs that counter, what some research has described as the propensity to rollover. Morphett echoes this position.
Perhaps more significantly Morphett believes that new quadbikes should leave the dealership with a rollover bar fitted. Who pays for this addition is yet to be determined. Should it be part of the sale price? Should it be an optional extra that is actively encouraged by the dealers, or by the safety regulators, or just as a result of customer demand?
OHS regulators are watching the issue of quadbike safety closely and surely it cannot be too long before one of them begins offering CPD or ROPS rebates for quadbikes. If this action is not taken soon, it is likely that some industrious and creative farmers will begin fitting homemade safety devices to quadbikes that are very likely to increase the risk of injury. By offering rebates for existing, proven ROPS and CPDs, the regulators may be setting safety standards for these devices.
OHS regulators have provided information on commercially available safety solutions in the past without risking accusations of endorsement. They should consider similar action now.
UPDATE: 22 June 2011
The Weekly Times is reporting that WorkSafe Victoria will be enforcing the wearing of helmets on quadbikes.