Quad bike poster distracts from the evidence

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Not only are quadbike manufacturers resisting the inevitable, they have gone on the attack with posters being distributed that criticise the installation of crush protection devices (CPD)s, safety devices increasingly being recommended by safety advocates, farm safety specialists and government departments in Australia.

According The Weekly Times on 16 June 2011, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris and Kawasaki and others are promoting a safety message through the poster (pictured right).  This position was hinted at in Dr Yossi Berger’s comments on a previous blog posting.

The major rural newspaper reports a curious position that may indicate that criticism of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) may be misplaced.

“FCAI motorcycle manager Rhys Griffiths said it was the manufacturers’ decision to put the posters up, and “we had no part in printing it”.

The FCAI was “yet to go public with our message other than to have the industry position paper available”.” [links added]

There is no mention of this poster campaign on any of the manufacturers’ website mentioned above.

The FCAI may claim not to gone “public” on this poster campaign but the industry position paper is, at first glance, damning of the roll bar options available.  However a close reading of the industry paper on rollover protection structures shows a large number of equivocations and conditional statements.  There also seem to be blanket conclusions from some comparisons of dissimilar ROPS.

The debate continues and seems to be evolving into the public relations arena.  This is very unfortunate as the evidence, the issue of the safety of riders of quadbikes in the workplace, can become clouded by spin.  Up to this point the arguments have been about the research evidence.  The poster is an unhelpful distraction.

Kevin Jones

Australia to ratify ILO OHS Convention, says Senator

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The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported on 14 June 2011 (not freely available online) that Senator Jacinta Collins has publicly stated that an International Labour Organisation (ILO) occupational health and safety convention will be signed by the current Government in conjunction with other conventions on maritime labour, asbestos and part-time work.  The announcement that “Australia will ratify four ILO Conventions this year” was made at the recent International Labour Conference.

Most of the AFR article focussed on the labour relations impacts of the conventions but RMIT’s Professor of Law, Breen Creighton noted that

“Ratifying a convention has no effect in Australian law unless the Australian parliaments legislate to give effect to the international obligations.”

Senator Collins’ speech identifies the OHS protocol as the “Optional Protocol of 2002 to the Occupational Health and Safety Convention”.

A brief discussion on this protocol occurred on this blog in late April 2011 when the ratification was mentioned during the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Kevin Jones

Quad bike manufacturers resist the inevitable

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Pressure is increasing on the manufacturers of quad bikes in Australia and from a variety of sources.

The Weekly Times newspaper continues, almost fortnightly, to report on the safety debate about the use and design of quad bikes.  The 9 June edition has a double-page spread on the issue with many direct quotes from “players” in the debate.  The fact that a national rural newspaper has devoted this level of column inches is indicative of the controversy.  The Australian metropolitan dailies have not followed this lead but, as we have seen in previous blog posts, major New Zealand papers have covered the issues.

Some Australian government departments are applying the cautionary principle under legislative occupational health and safety (OHS) obligation and have restricted the use of quad bikes pending risk assessments.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has heard that one department, New South Wales’ National Parks & Wildlife Service, has passed through the assessment phase  and will be fitting Crush Protection Devices (CPDs) to their quad bikes by the end of August 2011.

A source close to the debate has told SafetyAtWorkBlog that

  • There is an increased likelihood for coroners’ inquests in a number of states;
  • The quad bike industry has begun formally misrepresenting the value of CPDs in posters, of which several have been provided to quad bike distributors; and
  • The industry continue to assert that research shows CPDs cause more harm than good but provide no evidence of this. Continue reading “Quad bike manufacturers resist the inevitable”

Another government department limits ATV/quad bike use over safety concerns

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At the end of May 2011, The Weekly Times newspaper reported that the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment

“has enforced limited use of ATVs by staff while it conducted a risk assessment on their use.”

SafetyAtWorkBlog has learned that a New South Wales government department has taken similar action through to August 2011.

Kevin Jones

Source data from within the quad bike safety stoush

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SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to contact the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ Rhys Griffiths this afternoon seeking clarification of the FCAI’s withdrawal from quad bike safety discussions reported yesterday.  Prior to withdrawing, a document was read to the quad bike safety working group.  The document has not been released publicly but below is the gist.

Further down the page is an edited version of the letter that the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (AgHealth) has reportedly sent to “290 rural motorcycle dealers”.  According to Rhys Griffiths being quoted in The Weekly Times, this letter

“”…basically says dealers could be looking at law suits for not fitting devices on ATVs…  This is in direct contradiction to the manufacturers’ recommendations, so the dealer is caught in the middle.” Continue reading “Source data from within the quad bike safety stoush”