Scene of an on-farm quad bike accident in New Zealand.
There is about one on-farm fatality each week in Australia – a blunt reminder of the ongoing need for caution in agriculture, according to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS) at the University of Sydney.
The latest statistics released by the ACAHS, based on an analysis of 2015 print media reports, show that 37 people – including four children – lost their lives in on-farm incidents between 1 January and 30 September 2015 and 74 were injured in non-fatal incidents.
The figures represent only a small reduction in the number of farm fatalities recorded at the same time last year (39). However, ACAHS director Associate Professor Tony Lower says “figures are only a very small part of the issue”.
“Behind every one of these cases there is a person, a family and a community that has to manage the unnecessary loss of a loved one,” he says, stressing that non-fatal incidents also often have enduring consequences. “Many of those that survive need to learn to manage with lifelong disabilities.”
He says quad bikes are still the major safety issue facing the agricultural industry and the number-one cause of on-farm deaths for the past four years.
“Quad manufacturers always point to rider error to avoid safety implications for their product, but more than 60 per cent of quad deaths in Australia involve rollovers and the lack of a lateral stability standard and crush protection,” he says. “It means not only do they roll too easily, but when they do, the consequences are often fatal. Because of these design flaws, the margin of error for riding quads is so small that it all too often ends in tragedy.”
The ACAHS strongly encourages growers to use other, more stable vehicles than quad bikes.
Tony Lower, 02 6752 8210
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