AS temperatures soared across country Queensland the possibility of having to wear a helmet when riding a quad-bike (ATV) continues to simmer as a top rural issue for 2012.
Late last year the Bligh Government said it would examine whether helmets would need to become compulsory on farms, also Crush Protection Devices, or roll-bars, after a horror year of deaths and injuries during 2011.
With the mercury peaking at eight year highs across southern Queensland, property owner and AgForce vice-president Ian Burnett, speaking from Emerald, where the temperature was heading for 38 deg C, said the requirement for quad-bike riders to wear helmets would be difficult to maintain – principally because current designs don’t provide shade protection.
As well, AgForce is taking a cautious approach over any move to have quad-bikes fitted with crush protection devices, or roll-bars.
“While we all have to be mindful of the health and safety aspects, also the horrifying (injury) statistics, the record of quad-bikes on properties is a concern,” Ian Burnett said.
“There needs to be quite a bit more input and research (into the issues),” he added.
Meanwhile, forestalling any possible tightening up of quad-bike safety legislation in Queensland sees the Australian Agricultural College Corporation (AACC) ideally-placed to take on board any changes.
As well as adopting safe riding techniques, all AACC students must wear helmets as a compulsory part of the uniform - just like closed-in shoes – with the organisation’s quad-bikes additionally fitted with Crush Protection Devices, or roll-bars.
“AACC students are trained to wear helmets, follow manufacturer guidelines and use the vehicle in the best way for specific,” AACC executive director Tony Rayner said.
“The incidence of quad-bike fatalities and injuries is alarming and we are proud to instil appropriate safety practices in both full-time residential students and those undertaking short courses with us,” he added.
With most small to medium-size grazing enterprises using quad-bikes, also motor bikes for mustering, fencing, property inspection, spraying and general inspection, the issue is being closely tracked by land owners.
In March last year, AACC fitted Quadbars made by QB Industries on all its quad-bikes.
“Despite some initial apprehension on the use of roll-bars on our AACC vehicles, students and staff have quickly adapted,” Tony Rayner said.
The AACC currently is working with safety authorities to assess the practicalities of adopting the practice of riders wearing helmets and using quad-bikes fitted with ROPS.
During 2011 there were 23 fatalities in quad-bike incidents and there have been 12 deaths since 2002 in Queensland.
FOOTNOTE: Draft amendments to the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 will be available for comment until 31 March 2012.