WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA) has issued a reminder on the importance of quad bike safety and outlined its state’s initiatives after three recent crash-related deaths. In May 2020, a 76-year-old farmer at Elleker, west of Albany, went out on a quad bike to do some checks on the afternoon of 24 May and did not return that evening; he was later found deceased on the farm. The quad bike was operated on a steep incline in wet and windy weather, and it appeared to have been ridden down the slope when the farmer lost control, causing the quad bike to flip and land on him. A tank attached to the quad bike may have contained fluids and may have contributed to unbalancing the bike.
“I’d like to offer my condolences to the family of the farmer killed in this unfortunate incident,” WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said. “Incidents involving quad bikes happen far too often on WA farms, and in fact all across the country. WorkSafe Western Australia and the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) are working hard to reduce the injury and death toll in all areas of the agriculture industry.” WorkSafe WA’s website includes resources for the agriculture industry in general and quad bikes in particular, Kavanagh said.
In April 2019, near Esperance, a 51-year-old farmer also died when he was thrown from a quad bike while riding on a gravel livestock laneway; he was not wearing a helmet. Four months before that, a 17-year-old died when he came off a quad bike on a farm in the Great Southern Region. Quad bikes can roll if they are used on rough, uneven or sloping ground, if they are ridden at high speed, or if they are used to carry heavy loads such as tanks. Quad bikes should always be used with appropriate personal protection, including a helmet, long-sleeved clothing and sturdy footwear. All farm vehicles must also be maintained and serviced regularly to reduce the risk associated with operation of the vehicles, the regulator advises.
In an effort to improve safety on WA farms, COSH has established an Agriculture Working Group that includes agricultural representatives. In May 2020, the McGowan government initiated an urgent Farm Safety Summit to discuss workplace safety issues in the agriculture sector, while Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston and Regional Development Minister Alannah McTiernan met with representatives of the major stakeholder groups in agriculture to discuss how to improve safety on farms.
“Quad bikes are the source of many injuries in both workplaces and non-workplaces, and it’s worth thinking about substituting them for another vehicle,” Kavanagh said. “I encourage all employers who have quad bikes in their workplaces to consider the suitability of vehicles that offer more stability — for instance, the type of side-by-side used as a golf buggy.”
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Rafael Ben-Ari