In July 2011, it was noted that the quad bike manufacturers had revised the wording of their poster about quad bike safety. The website that provided an online version of that poster is now under redevelopment. However Australia’s Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) has released its own poster outlining the basic elements of quad bike safety in Australia and New Zealand.
The poster advises that:
BEFORE YOU BUY
Find out whether a quad bike is the best vehicle option for your farm.
- Identify your needs and relevant operator safety issues – eg riders must not carry passengers (unless specifically designed) and must be aged 16 or over.
- Compare vehicle options to your needs.
- Talk to your dealer and others with relevant knowledge.
Due to the specific design features and handling characteristics of a quad bike, all riders should undertake an accredited training course.
- You must ensure that anyone using a quad bike on your farm has appropriate information, training and supervision. This includes employers, workers and others – eg visitors.
- Ask your dealer about trainers in your local area.
- Supervise inexperienced operators.
HELMETS AND OTHER PPE
Quad bikes are no different to any other motorcycle when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE). Always wear a helmet when operating a quad bike. It is important to meet your legal requirements when it comes to wearing PPE in the workplace – ensure you comply with the advice provided in the owner’s manual.
Typical PPE other than helmets include:
- eye protection
- hand protection
- long-sleeve shirt and full-length pants
- sturdy footwear.
Before purchasing attachments, ensure they are suitable for use with your quad bike. Attachments on your quad bike can reduce the stability, operator control and performance of the vehicle.”
The curious element to this poster is that, although the content was developed by “the Trans-Tasman quad bike industry solutions program working party, under the auspices of Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities”, one of the stakeholders in the quad bike safety negotiations, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), representing quad bike manufacturers is not included on the poster. Perhaps this is not surprising given the FCAI’s objection to safety findings some months ago but it is a missed opportunity for the OHS regulators and quad bike manufacturers to unite behind a safety initiative.
And it is not as if the poster’s contents above are really controversial. The advice is a mix of must-haves and suitability. In fact some would say it outlines a “common sense approach” to quad bike safety. The objections of manufacturers to crush protection devices (CPDs) seems to be dealt with by advising about suitability before fitting and warning that CPDs may affect the operation of the quad bike. This seems reasonable.
The poster also states that helmets are mandatory when riding quad bikes. This needs some refining in order to be widely accepted by farmers and other quad bike riders, and in order to address the wide environmental variations across Australia and New Zealand.
It is also heartening that the first piece of information in this poster is for buyers to stop and think about the need for a quad bike prior to purchase. Is a quad bike the most appropriate tool for their workplace needs? Could a quad bike be introducing new hazards to the agricultural workplace where other less hazardous equipment may be available?
The biggest attraction of this poster is that it is addressing safety and not some political or commercial agenda.