On 18 January 2017, WorkSafeWA released an agricultural safety checklist which includes some hazards associated with quad bike operations. West Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator stresses the checklist only lists common hazards and refers to a handbook. The only agricultural handbook available on its website is from 2014 and the quad bike safety information seems outdated or, at least, inconsistent with the advice from South Australia and elsewhere.
The checklist includes these quad bike and motorbike related hazards which it is reasonable to take as what WorkSafeWA sees as those hazards which should attract specific attention:
- “A helmet [labelled AS/NZS 1698] which fits the rider; and substantial footwear is a mandatory requirement when riding motor or quad bikes.
- Maximum speed limits established for all areas of the property.
- Bikes carry loads in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Persons operating motor or quad bikes in the workplace have received training and instruction.
- Motor or quad bikes have been maintained and are in good working condition.
- Towed accessories do not exceed the towed or tongue weight limit.
- Accessories utilised meet the requirements of the manufacturer of the agricultural bike to which they are attached.
- Terrain is assessed and hazards identified.
- Consider operator skills, slope, weather, surface structure etc has been addressed.
- Persons transporting bikes have been trained in loading, tying down, and unloading procedures.
- All safety and warning decals on bikes are to be legible.
- Keys to bikes stored in a place where they cannot be accessed by children (to prevent unintended use).
- No passengers to be carried unless the plant has been designed to do so; and if so – carried according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Risk assessments are conducted and adequate hearing protection is worn when exposed to noisy activities.”
A noticeable omission is any mention of making sure the quad bike is the most suitable equipment for the task or the consideration of crush protection devices (CPD). Curiously Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS) are used in the examples for completing the checklist, but nothing about similar structures on quad bikes.
According to recent research, Western Australia had four farming fatalities and four non-fatal injuries reported in the press for 2016. Safe Work Australia reports one WA recreational quadbike-related death for 2016.
Given that the same brands and models of quad bikes are sold across Australia, it is odd that the safety advice is not uniform. Lucky most farmers only work in one jurisdiction at a time.