Imported new and used quads will now legally require rollover protection equipment in an effort to improve farm safety and reduce one of the leading causes of death on Australian farms.
The second stage of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ATV safety standard will go into effect this month, prompting the Victoria farm lobby group to issue a stern warning to farmers.
The second step of the standard will require that all new and used quads imported to Australia be fitted with operator protection devices and meet minimum stability requirements.
Victorian Farmers Federation senior farm safety adviser John Darcy said the new rules should serve as a warning to primary producers to undertake a risk assessment and overhaul their on-farm equipment.
“If the average farmer does not have OPDs on their bikes, and an accident occurs, WorkSafe will investigate the matter and they will then be able to pursue a lawsuit claiming that a farmer should have known that ‘an OPD should have been installed,’ said Mr. Darcy.
“Get the OPDs installed on your bikes from a safety perspective to keep your workers safe, but also to minimize the risk of lawsuits for non-compliance with safety obligations. “
So far Mr Darcy has said that quads could have been sold in Victoria without OPDs installed, and many dealers left it up to the buyer to install such a device or not.
“There is a very vocal minority who still maintain that their preference is not to have to install these devices,” Mr. Darcy said.
Deaths from quads reached their highest level in a decade last year, according to Safe Work Australia, which said 24 people had lost their lives to the common part of agricultural machinery.
He said even though the death toll for quads was considerably lower this year, regular farm safety assessments should be undertaken.
“ATVs are still the leading cause of death in agriculture, but side-by-side bikes are increasing rapidly,” he said.
“The reason people die side by side is because they don’t wear seat belts.”
The first step of the ACCC standard required that new and imported used quads be tested for lateral static stability and increased rollover warnings.
The new regulations led to the withdrawal of major manufacturers, including Honda, Yamaha and Polaris, from the Australian market, leaving little choice for farmers who needed a new quad.
Dairy farmer Dean Ford, Darnum, said quads are an essential tool in managing day-to-day operations on his property.
“The safety of quads is just as important as protecting all open machine drives and general machine maintenance,” said Ford.
“We have two quads in service – an old bike which has no OPD because we use it to feed our calves and it is not used in the paddocks and a newer one which is fitted with protection against the turnaround. “
Like many farmers, Mr Ford, who grows with his wife Rebecca and son Ryan, said he has yet to put two new bikes into service due to the new rules coming into effect.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to replace my existing bikes with the brands that I’m happy with and always had, so we bought two to put in the shed,” Ford said.
“As far as rallying and fencing goes, in a dairy application you get on and off that bike, so sometimes a side-to-side isn’t suitable.”