Victoria has become the first state to require mandatory rollover protection to be fitted to quad bikes used in the workplace, including farms.
Victoria’s executive director of health and safety Marnie Williams says that with 15 quad bike fatalities on Australian farms in 2015, doing nothing was no longer an option.
Ms Williams says WorkSafe Victoria has been following the debate on the suitability of rollover protection on quad bikes for several years and has listened to the views of manufacturers, the medical profession, hospitals, community groups and agricultural safety bodies.
She says there is enough collective evidence from coronial inquiries, hospital injury data and academic research to convince WorkSafe that mandatory rollover protection is the right thing to do.
She says the ruling will now be followed by an awareness campaign and WorkSafe will also contribute to the Australia-wide development of a national design standard for operator protective devices (OPDs) for quad bikes.
“It’s important to stress that the rollout of our quad bike strategy is in its early stages,” Ms Williams says.
She says employers will be given the information and time needed to prepare themselves for the change.
“WorkSafe will keep talking with key industry groups and seek feedback and input. We would expect to begin compliance and enforcement activity in the next 12 to 18 months, subject to the feedback we receive.”
Ms Williams says there are several OPDs for quad bikes already on the market that meet national health and safety requirements. She hopes that WorkSafe’s decision to support professionally engineered and tested products will encourage other designers and manufacturers to also enter the market.
“As there is no specific Australian Standard, we will also support research to develop a national design standard for rollover protection on quad bikes,” she says.
The Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP), of which the GRDC is a partner, has welcomed the Victorian ruling as a positive step.
PIHSP advisory chair Gordon Gregory says on-farm fatalities continue to devastate farming communities around the country, with quad bikes the leading cause.
Mr Gregory offers these additional tips on safe quad bike operation:
- always wear a helmet;
- keep children younger than 16 off quad bikes;
- make sensible choices about terrain and environmental conditions;
- make sensible choices based on the rider’s ability and your machine; and
- attend a training course.
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