People enter the quad bike ROPS debate

A week on from Australia’s The Weekly Times using its front page to open a debate about roll over protection structures (ROPS), the debate has continued in the letters and op-ed pages of The Weekly Times.

Dr Yossi Berger of the Australian Workers Union asks the valid question in his opinion piece – should all the responsibility for quad bike incidents be placed on riders or can manufacturers do better?  If injuries and deaths on quad bikes continue to occur after rider-focused control measures have been advocated and encouraged for many years, isn’t it time to look at more than PPE and administrative controls?  As Albert Einstein is alleged to have said:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Rhys Griffiths of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says in his piece that the quad bike manufacturers are frustrated that low-cost, in safety-speak, administrative controls are not being applied by riders or endorsed by safety regulators.  The control measures recommended are likely to have positive safety impacts but these could be improved further by the integration of a ROPS.  However Griffiths says that :

“Roll Over Protection Systems are not the answer”.

I agree but safety is rarely about “the” answer.  Better outcomes are mostly achieved by a combination of controls that can accommodate the varying work characteristics. Continue reading “People enter the quad bike ROPS debate”

New quad bike research and practical safety guidance

A major Australian rural newspaper, The Weekly Times, has devoted its front page to an article on rollover protective devices on quad bikes.   It has taken as the base new information released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS) through a media release. The new policy paper and the supporting Practical Management Guide acknowledge new research from independent engineers that has finally questioned the established knowledge base on the safety of quad bikes.

ACAHS has come to a position where it states:

“Farmers and other owners of quad bikes should be encouraged to fit suitably tested protective devices to reduce death and serious injury from rollovers.” Continue reading “New quad bike research and practical safety guidance”

NZ releases new guidelines on quad bike safety

Any new OHS guidelines from regulators important to read and consider when implementing safety interventions.   New Zealand’s Department of Labour (DoL) has released new guidelines for the use of quad bikes in workplaces, predominantly, farms.

Quad bike manufacturers are strong advocates of “active riding” techniques as an important safety practice. The new guidelines support this position.

Regular readers will be aware that there are engineering controls for rollovers of quad bikes where “active riding” is an administrative control of rollovers. The engineering control is primarily a rollover protective structure (ROPS). The difference between the two control measures is significant as the engineering controls are considered to be a higher order, or more effective, control in the hierarchy of controls advocated by OHS regulators and professionals around the world.

The NZ DoL guidelines make reference to ROPS but only as a text box because the evidence on ROPS remains contentious. Continue reading “NZ releases new guidelines on quad bike safety”

Quad bike fatality costs over $80k in penalties

A Western Australian company has been fined $A50,000 over the death of one of its workers in November 2008  The worker rode a quad bike into a wire gate and died.  The recent WorkSafe WA media release focuses, understandably on the fine imposed in the Perth Magistrates’ Court on Jenara P/L but a clearer picture of the incident is available from an earlier WorkSafe report into the incident.  The accused, in this instance, was Seatown Holdings, a labour hire firm who was fined $A30,000 :

“The accused was a labour hire company which employed a worker for remuneration and arranged for said worker to work for Jenara Pty Ltd who was one of its clients.

The client ran a grain growing farm near Miling.

During the afternoon on Sunday 16 November 2008 the worker was working alone and riding an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) on a road on the client’s farm when he rode into a wire gate known as a ‘cockies gate’. Continue reading “Quad bike fatality costs over $80k in penalties”

Independent research into quad bike ROPS safety

In early 2009, Australian engineer, Shane Richardson, completed his thesis into the “Performance Criteria For Effective Structural Rollover Protective Systems For Light Passenger Vehicles”.  Part of his thesis included an evaluation of the New Zealand Department of Labour’s ROPS guidelines for ATVs or quad bikes.

Richardson points out that the guidelines have strong similarities to the Australian Standard for protective Structures on Earth-moving Machinery (AS2294) although quad bikes may tipover or undergo a multi-directional tumble, the latter action is not one considered by AS 2294.  Richardson believed that the earth-moving machinery “origin” of many of the basic concepts and calculations in the NZ DoL guidelines made them useful but inadequate. Continue reading “Independent research into quad bike ROPS safety”

NZ Farmers rep enters quad bike safety debate

An opinion piece was published in the New Zealand Herald on 12 January 2011 concerning quad bikes.  There are several points raised by Donald Aubrey, vice-president of Federated Farmers and chairman of the Agricultural Health and Safety Council that can be disputed.

“In the hands of the untrained or the over-confident they can be deadly. And quad bike safety is far from being a problem exclusive to the agricultural sector.”

From the outset Aubrey’s position is clear, the problem with quad bike safet is not design-related, it is lack of training and over-confidence.  Training for quad bike riding has existed for many years and injuries continue to occur.  At what point should more effective controls be introduced? Continue reading “NZ Farmers rep enters quad bike safety debate”

NZ Coroner presses for changes in quad bike safety

One of New Zealand’s coroners, Ian Smith, has set a safety challenge to the OHS regulatory and quad bike distributors.  In the coronial findings (not available online) into the 2008 death of 21-year-old beekeeper, Jody Santos, Coroner Smith has recommended to the Ministers for Transport and Labour:

“The Court endorses the new educational and enforcement programme being proposed by the Department of Labour, but considers that both Ministries undertake an immediate investigation to consider the mandatory installation of:

(i) The compulsory wearing of helmets when operating ATVs in any circumstances; and

(ii) The installation of a roll bar on all A TVs/quad bikes; and

(iii) The installation of lap belts on all ATVs/quad bikes.”

The Department of Labour (DoL) specifically requested that the Coroner remove the mandatory installation recommendation.   Continue reading “NZ Coroner presses for changes in quad bike safety”