Dirty tricks in quad bike debate

This week an online entity has been establishing itself on various social media platforms as “Say No To OPDs”, “Ban The Bar” and combinations of those phrases. These sites are asking people to make submissions to the current inquiry into establishing a quad bike safety standard which is being managed through the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) at the instigation of the Federal Government. This is not an inquiry about quad bike safety; that occurred last year with the ACCC report handed down earlier this year. It is an inquiry about a specific element of safety but this has not stopped a coordinated online push to reject the ACCC’s broader safety and product design recommendations.

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Release of authoritative quad bike safety report is still not enough for the Federal Minister

On April 6 2018 Australia’s Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert released the report into Quad Bike safety prepared by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). The report makes unsurprising safety recommendations, many of these have been coming for years. The surprise is the Minister’s decision to begin another round of consultation:

“The Government is inviting stakeholders to review and comment on the ACCC’s recommended safety standard.”

The previous paragraph in the Minister’s press statement acknowledged:

“Extensive consultation has been undertaken including with technical experts, farmers, the recreational and tourism sector, consumer groups, health and medical experts, industry and government bodies. The majority of stakeholders support a new mandatory safety standard. The ACCC’s report highlights how these safety measures including installing an operator protection device can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, particularly from rollover incidents”

An indication of the level of “extensive consultation” can be seen through the process the ACCC has been running since at least November 2017. The only possible reason for this extraordinary decision is the political desire to release the ACCC report prior to the Federal Election, only just announced as occurring on May 18, 2019.

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Review of West Gate Bridge findings has important lessons for modern infrastructure projects

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today.

Panorama of West Gate Bridge in Melbourne at sunset in summer.

Last week,

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Don’t “say anything to anyone..” – Dreamworld inquest

The first week of the two-week inquest into four fatalities at the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland has concluded.  It has substantial occupational health and safety (OHS) management lessons for Australian businesses in a similar way to that of many recent workplace disasters.  Those lessons are basic and the hazards are well-known in the OHS profession. Journalists Jamie Walker and Mark Schliebs, in the Weekend Australian newspaper, provided an excellent review (paywalled) of the lessons from that first week.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has not written about the deaths on the, now discontinued, Thunder Rapids ride because there has been an

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ACCC slaps down the FCAI on quad bike safety

On June 5 2018, Sharon O’Keeffe of the North Queensland Register newspaper aired the response of the Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Mick Keogh to claims from the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on the safety of quad bikes and crush protection devices (CPDs). O’Keeffe says “the gloves are off”.

In March 2018, the ACCC announced its intention for a mandatory safety standard for quad bikes, or All Terrain Vehicles (ATV,) that included CPDs. 

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Robotics may cause an apocalypse if you’re male, old and low-skilled

Australia’s Office of the Chief Economist has released its first Industry Insights document for 2018.  This one focusses on flexibility and growth and included this statement in the chapter written by Andrew Charlton, a Director, of AlphaBeta :

“At the macroeconomic level, much of this change has been positive. The economy has created new jobs that are, on average, better paid, more satisfying and safer than the jobs that were lost.” (page 19)

Safer jobs? The last claim sent me to the source of the data – 

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Mandatory quad bike safety changes

Product Safety has never been far from the quad bike safety debate in Australia.

Three Wheeler Honda ATV

It was Product Safety that removed the three-wheel ATV from sale in the 1970s and 80s and it seems Product Safety may achieve a safety resolution that occupational health and safety (OHS) consultation could not.

On March 22, 2018 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a media statement that says the ACCC, amongst other actions:

“…is proposing a mandatory safety standard that:….requires manufacturers to integrate an operator protection device, such as a crush protection device or roll over protection device in the design of new quad bikes…..”

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