Quad bike fatalities cost an average of at least $2.3 million 1

Australian research has provided an important additional element to discussions on the safety of using quad bikes as work vehicles on Australian farms.  According to a media release to be published on 3 April 2013 from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS):

Two new papers released today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health ….indicate that the costs for fatal [quad bike] incidents between 2001-2010 were $288 million.” [links added, articles only available for purchase or by subscription]
caution ATV signDr Tony Lower, ACAHS Director, says that
 ““This conservative estimate draws on deaths data from the National Coroners Information System and includes projected losses in future earnings, impacts on household contributions, insurance payments, investigation and hospital costs”…. The average cost was $A2.3 million, with the highest average being in those aged 25-34 years at $A4.2 million””.
This estimation is shocking but refreshing.  Shocking in that the cost is so high but refreshing because the data is not based, as so much OHS data is, only on workers compensation claims data More…

An OHS look at the Australian Labor Party’s National Platform 1

Cover of National Platform 2011 ALPThe leadership squabbles in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) have diminished  for the moment, and the next Federal election is set for September 2013.  Most everyone is tipping the ALP to lose the election.  The verb “lose” is specifically chosen, for the opposition Liberal/National coalition will probably win “by default”.  Whatever the electoral outcomes, the major political parties in Australia have current positions and policies on workplace safety.  Six months out from an election, it may be worth looking at those policies, as they currently stand. The first is that of the ALP.

The ALP has an extensive National Platform that was presented at its National Conference in 2012.  Below are some of the statements from that document as they pertain to occupational health and safety (OHS).  Some commentary is offered on these statements.

“The Labor Government places the highest priority on worker safety, particularly miner worker safety.” (page 42) More…

One quad bike manufacturer seizes the day on safety 1

Since the quad bike safety roundtable a couple of months ago, the safety debate about quad bikes has been quiet however, the issue has lost little of its topicality.  On 5 December The Weekly Times again devoted its front page, and editorial, to quad bike safety.

The newsworthiness stems from quad bike manufacturer, CFMoto offering

“…the Quadbar device through its dealership across Australia, conceding crush protection for ATVs was “inevitable”.” (link added)

This is a noticeable break from the other motorcycle manufacturers represented in Australia by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).  Contrary to the FCAI comments in the article, CFMoto is not a backyard manufacturer.  According to its website profile:

“CFMoto’s ATV and UTV range has been the second largest selling throughout much of Europe for the reporting period between the January ’08 and June ’10. And since arriving in Australia has become the fastest growing ATV brand in Australia!” More…

PCBUs, farms, quad bikes and safety – a speculation 4

Soon another Australian State, South Australia, will be using the concept of the PCBU – the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking in its occupational health and safety laws. This concept has the potential to expand OHS laws well beyond the traditional factory fence or office and the recent discussion on the safety of quad bikes may illustrate this.

Until there are Court cases to clarify the Work Health and Safety laws and concepts it is worth looking at the source of these concepts. Safe Work Australia explains the PCBU in an interpretative guideline.

Businesses may be “enterprises usually conducted with a view to making a profit and have a degree of organisation, system and continuity”. In terms of quad bike use, this could be a farm.

Undertakings “may have elements of organisation, systems, and possibly continuity, but are usually not profit-making or commercial in nature.” Probably not a farm. More…

The world looks to Australia for quad bike safety changes 8

On 19 October 2012 in a video address to an Australian forum on quad bike safety, the US Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Robert Adler stated

“We at the US CPSC are monitoring your activities closely with the hope that what you learn can help us back here in the United States.”

That places considerable attention on the safety initiatives and negotiations in Australia but also may indicate that the United States is struggling to achieve change in this area.

On October 17 2012, the Weekly Times devoted its front page, a double page spread and its editorial to the safety of quad bikes, or All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).   The editorial called  on the Government to

“…mandate all ATVs are fitted with roll-over protection ..[and to] provide a rebate to allow retro-fitting of roll-over protection to existing ATVs.”

ABC News provided an excellent summary of the issues associated with quad bike safety in its news report on 17 October 2011 and showed some scary images of young children riding quad bikes.

Following the forum, Australia’s Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten issued a media statement outlining to the outcomes.  It stated:

“The Minister said he has asked Safe Work Australia to report on the key findings of the quad bike issues paper and today’s forum, and that he would direct Comcare*, the Commonwealth workplace safety regulator, to immediately implement the following:

  • Comcare will work with scheme employers to review their use of quad bikes and consider possible substitution with less hazardous equipment. More…