Dr Tony Lower, Director of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety has released his review of farm safety incident statistics for 2015. According to a media release (not yet online), Dr Lower found
“…there were 69 on‐farm injury deaths. The main causes continued to be quads, accounting for 15 cases (22%), with two of these involving children. This is the fifth year in a row where quads have been the leading cause of non‐intentional injury deaths on Australian farms.”
His report is based on mainstream media coverage. Whether this increases the accuracy of the statistics or underestimates the number of incidents is unclear but the process allows Dr Lower to provide frequent information on farm safety that may indicate trends.
Dr Lower also provides a report specific to quad bike incidents. This report found:
- “Of the 22 reported deaths, 15 (68%) occurred on a farm.
- Where information was available, 10 of the 20 reported deaths (50%) were rollovers.
- Three of the 22 reported deaths (13%), involved children under the age of 16 years.
- Thirteen of the 22 reported deaths (59%), involved persons over 50 years of age.”
Importantly Dr Lower reports on injuries as well as fatalities:
- “There were 12 children under the age of 16 years involved in quad related injury events, representing 17% of all injury cases. The majority of these children required hospitalisation or medical treatment for their injuries.
- Of the 70 reported injury events, location was unable to be determined for nine cases. Of the remaining cases, 41 (67%) occurred on‐farm and 20 (33%) in a non‐farming setting.
- Of the 70 cases, rollovers accounted for 25 (36%) of the reported non‐fatal injury cases and non‐rollovers for 45 (64%) of the cases.”
2015 saw the released of several coronial reports into quad bike deaths and the government released its research papers on quad bike operation and design. 2016 should be a year of action with the implementation of a Safety Star Rating system and other hazard control measures. One could expect a the conservative coalition of the Australian Government to take action as quad bike incidents directly affect its constituent base but the National Party is increasingly involving itself in the resources sector rather than agriculture so the response may not be as decisive as it could have been in the past.
Dr Lower was able to summarise the risk control measures of quad bike use in terms of the OHS Hierarchy of Controls:
Dr Lower’s regular quarterly reports on farm safety are a useful reminder of the risks involved with that industry sector and with quadbikes in workplaces.
Update: 13 January 2016
I have been advised that the data definitely understates the reality with a further 10-15+ cases each year that are not reported in the media but picked up when Coronial inquiries are announced.