Where is the evidence for the safety benefits of high visibility clothing?

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Recently a local council in Australia suggested that bicycle riders should be required to wear high visibility jackets.  Bicycle Victoria was not impressed:

Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan slammed the idea.

“Unfortunately there is no evidence that so-called ‘high-visibility clothing’ is of any benefit to bike riders,” Mr Brennan said. “Whether the rider is dressed in bright fluoro or black, or is stark naked, matters little when drivers are not paying attention.  The good news is that as more bikes crowd the roads, most drivers are paying more attention.”

In another article Brennan said

“It’s redundant and potentially misleading,” Mr Brennan … said.  He said high-visibility clothing would give cyclists a false sense of security.  “All it does is make you feel more visible,” he said.”

High visibility clothing is an established element of personal protective clothing on construction sites and in the transport industry.  It was introduced as a way of increasing the visibility of workers where traffic on- and off-site interacts with pedestrians.  A UK article by BrightKidz summarises the logic on high visibility clothing but is there any evidence that bright clothing reduces serious contact between pedestrians and traffic? Continue reading “Where is the evidence for the safety benefits of high visibility clothing?”

Farmer rescued from rare tractor rollover incident

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Tractor rollovers are far less frequent in Australia than in previous decades due, principally, to major safety campaigns and financial rebates for the compulsory fitting of rollover protection structures (ROPS).  This fact makes the near death of a Victorian farmer on 17 August all the more surprising.

The most detailed report on the rescue, to the moment, is by Channel 7 but additional information is available from the ambulance service and through an audio statement* with the responding paramedic.  The Channel 7 reporter states that the tractor had no ROPS and this is true, to an extent.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has been advised that there was a ROPS for the tractor available on the farm but it had been detached.

At his early stage of the man’s recovery and incident investigation it is difficult to extrapolate OHS lessons or issues but any investigation is likely to ask about the risks of , amongst others,

  • working alone
  • the absence of ROPS
  • the competence of the “hobby farmer”
  • the working environment/terrain
  • the use of a trailer with this tractor.

It is believed that WorkSafe will be undertaking an investigation.

Kevin Jones

*very interesting social media initiative from the ambulance services

New quad bike poster establishes a safe operation benchmark

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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.

Fatigue management is getting clearer but is competing for attention

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As a discipline for study, fatigue still seems to be in its early days and this presents a challenge for safety professionals and researchers.  Everyone knows what fatigue is because at some time we all suffer it, but try to define it and it is different things to different people.

Transport Safety Victoria (TSV), a division of the Department of Transport, brought together three speakers on the issue of fatigue management in early August 2011.  The public seminar provided a good indication of the complexity of the occupational issue of fatigue management.

The first revelation in the seminar came from Dr Paula Mitchell who stressed that fatigue cannot be self-assessed.  Researchers are struggling to create a widely accepted indicator for fatigue.  There is no blood alcohol reading device for fatigue and the Independent Transport Safety Regulator in July 2010 expressed caution on the application of the bio-mathematical fatigue model. Continue reading “Fatigue management is getting clearer but is competing for attention”

Quad bike safety is showing a political shift

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A young boy has died in a quad bike incident on an Australian farm last weekend.  What the boy was doing at the time of the incident is unclear and whether the quad bike was a work vehicle or recreational is also unclear, but the current sensitivities of the issue of quad bike safety have raised media attention once more.

In this week’s edition of The Weekly Times, the motorcycle manager of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Rhys Griffiths, seems uncertain of the type of safety measures being considered for quad bikes by manufacturers.  He is reported as saying

“…. research and development spending and direction was a “closely guarded secret of each manufacturer”.

“My guess is they may be spending money on things like active suspension, which helps the stability of the ATV. But a roll bar or crush bar is probably not under development.”

Since quad bike safety advocates began producing robust research to add to the existing safety evidence, the FCAI seems to have been on the back foot a little by reacting instead of proposing change.   Continue reading “Quad bike safety is showing a political shift”