Bligh raises bar on quad-bike safety

21 Dec, 2011 10:16 AM
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Queensland dairy producer Paul Roderick, Harrisville, says he “doesn’t have a strong opinion either way” on the contentious issue of quad-bike safety, adding, however, he “would abide” by any decision that would result in riders being required to wear helmets.
Queensland dairy producer Paul Roderick, Harrisville, says he “doesn’t have a strong opinion either way” on the contentious issue of quad-bike safety, adding, however, he “would abide” by any decision that would result in riders being required to wear helmets.

THE Bligh Government has taken a national lead with plans to toughen up safety rules surrounding the use of quad-bikes in Queensland.

While helmets may become compulsory on farms, the contentious role of Crush protection Devices (CPDs), or roll-bars, also is being evaluated by regulators.

Some 23 people have been killed in quad-bike incidents during 2011 to make it one of the deadliest-ever years for accidents around Australia. In Queensland there have been 12 fatalities since 2002.

It is against this backdrop the state’s Industrial Relations Minister, Cameron Dick, has proposed amendments to the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004.

Should they be approved, farm workers would be required to wear helmets while children under 16 years of age would be prohibited from operating adult quad-bikes on farms.

"Research suggests about 35 percent of quad bike fatalities are associated with head injuries and this is why we are proposing to make wearing helmets mandatory for everyone operating a quad-bike on a farm,” Mr Dick said.

Conceding that quad-bikes have become an important part of life in rural industries, the Bligh government says it wants any changes to the code of practice to be both practical and workable.

"This is why we are asking for public comment on the proposed changes,” Mr Dick said.

Interestingly, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland also is evaluating the role of CPDs as another way of improving quad bike safety on farms.

It’s part of a study being undertaken with the Australian Agricultural Colleges Corporation and other state and territory health and safety regulators.

"When roll-over devices were installed on tractors, fatalities decreased by a massive 72 percent,” Mr Dick said.

"We want to know if installing similar devices on quad-bikes could have similar results," he added.

It’s been a rocky road for quad-bike suppliers since they first unfurled posters advising farmers not to fit roll-bars at the FarmFest field days in southern Queensland earlier this year.

Represented by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, their stance was that CPDs caused more harm than good.

But rising concerns over deaths and injuries associated with quad-bikes has gathered pace during the year.

Recently, the NSW Farmers’ Industrial Relations Committee called on the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities, Australia’s peak body representing work health and safety regulators, to endorse the mandatory fitting of roll bars.

The Queensland government says the draft amendments to the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 will be available for comment until 31 March 2012.

Meanwhile, Queensland dairy producer Paul Roderick, Harrisville, says he “doesn’t have a strong opinion either way” on the contentious issue of quad-bike safety, adding, however, he “would abide” by any decision that would result in riders being required to wear helmets.

He was commenting on the Bligh Government move to beef-up quad-bike safety rules designed to reduce the rising incidence of quad-bike fatalities and injuries.

Paul Roderick said: “We don’t use helmets at the moment” adding “there has to be a certain amount of personal responsibility” with respect to anyone who gets on a ‘bike.

Employees on the family’s 250-strong Friesian dairy property, Tregegar Park, round up the herd at less than 10kph.

“So if you have to have a helmet on, and it’s a hot, dusty day, it wouldn’t be all that pleasant,” Paul Roderick said.

“But if it became law we’d just have to do it – even though it would just be another thing we’d have to abide by,” he added.

The noted district dairy producer says suitable quad-bike training is pivotal in the drive to improve on-farm safety.

“We certainly don’t encourage our people to ride fast, or do anything silly,” Paul Roderick said.

The Roderick family has yet to investigate the availability of suitable helmets.

* Visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

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READER COMMENTS

chops
21/12/2011 4:02:23 PM

Now there is an idea, Nanny Anna will will fix it with some more absurd regulation. Laws already require a duty of care. To execute this requires an assement of risk by a competant person and appropriate steps to remove or mitigate the identified risks. Enforce the rules we already have. A blanket rule on helmets may cause deaths from heat stroke to outpace quad bike deaths attributable to head injury. Helmets may work at 80km/h because of the likelyhood of head injury in an accident and acceptable comfort. They are a poor intervention when poking along behind the sheep at 6km/h.
Les
21/12/2011 6:16:01 PM

This is Bligh and the Labour Party in stupid mode again not understanding how rural Australia works.My kids have been riding ATV'S, DRIVING UTES & RIDING HORSES since they were 8.We have got to draw a line in the sand to all these city based politicians.
ME Again
22/12/2011 6:53:17 AM

140 deaths over 10 years, at least half attributable to roll overs, and the Minister want's more information. How indecisive, how callous, that deaths and serious injuries have not promped action for all these years. Les, it's not your kids that should be protected against a roll over, but the inexperienced, the rushed, the distracted and the testosterone fuelled.
Reap What You Sow
22/12/2011 7:01:47 AM

Les and Chops, 12 people are dead as a result of quad bike accidents. Is that acceptable to you? Of course not. So what's your solution?
Loc Hey
22/12/2011 7:16:47 AM

hahahahaha The cottonwool bambi syndrome. What's next, Captain Bligh?
chops
22/12/2011 2:22:41 PM

RWYS, My solution is made very clear in my post. You seem to be suggesting that if people don't follow existing laws then we must introduce some more and hope they will follow those ones. Which of the 12 deaths were head injuries that would have been prevented with the use of a helmet ? This is my point mate, if we have 12 deaths, 9 from crushing injury, 3 from head injury why would a government rush out and make 30,000 farmers wear bloody helmets and in the process kill 16 of them from heat stroke as they try and comply with a stupid ill concieved law, travelling at 6 km/h in 40 degree heat
Reap What You Sow
23/12/2011 5:06:49 AM

No, I'm not suggesting that we need more laws. I'm asking for solutions, for suggestions.
Loc Hey
23/12/2011 6:32:33 AM

Geee I have a better idea legislate that all ATVs come out with air conditioned cabs like tractors have. Or maybe just ban them altogether and have a buyback like little Johny with my water pistol. Or better still again, just get rid of all those nasty methane producing cattle and those silly farmers wont need ATVs at all any more and no one will buy them. OR maybe you could slug them with a huge danger tax that could also put people off buying them. Any one got any more good sugestions ?
Realist
24/12/2011 8:18:03 AM

I wonder whether there will be legislation for horses to be fitted with rollover protection or legislation to stop people crossing roads. Producers have had enough of this nanny state and there is no help from Agforce, little wonder they have few members. With the number of children drowning in dams and pools maybee they should be outlawed too. The truth is producers will make their own decisions based on risk, something they do every day.
Max
24/12/2011 9:21:52 AM

Same old same old from government, penalise those acting responsibly and taking care to try and force those who aren't to do so. I know I would rather be wearing a WIDE brimmed hat than a hot heavy helmet in the sun and heat and thereby have less chance of skin cancer and heat stroke than the slim chance of an accident at the very slow speeds travelled. But obviously government and beauracrates know best yet again.
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