WorkSafe has come up with new guidelines on when passengers can be carried on quad bikes, but they won’t please all farmers according to Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Chris Lewis.
The present rules state that single-seat quad bikes should not “normally” be used to carry passengers.
WorkSafe has now clarified these to say it is only acceptable when there is no “reasonable” alternative, having considered factors such as “availability of alternative vehicles, terrain, and rider and passenger capability”.
Al McCone, WorkSafe sector lead for agriculture, said where a passenger was carried, “appropriate” mitigation measures must be taken – including limiting speed, briefing the passenger on best practice riding, and avoiding unsuitable terrain.
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Farmers should look at buying an alternative vehicle if the practice continued.
Lewis said there were many times when passengers had to be carried.
“I could buy another four wheeler for the kids to drive – but is that a safe option?”
“I could leave the kids at home watching TV while my wife and I work on the farm – but is that a safe option?”
Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Katie Milne said the clarification was trying to create a cultural change.
“It acknowledges that the practice [of carrying passengers] is going on, but it’s saying the vehicles are not designed for it.
“It’s also saying that sometimes carrying passengers is the only option because others options are more dangerous, such as allowing a completely inexperienced person to drive another quad bike.
“We will have to see how it plays out, none of this is black and white. There are road rules but people still break them,” Milne said.
She said that while most focus was on farmers, quad bikes were also used increasingly by recreational users, and the policy would help clarify for them when passengers should be carried.
McCone said the policy was trying to educate quad bike users to carry out a risk assessment before they carried passengers.
The clarification also stipulates that carrying a child as a passenger on a quad bike creates a particular set of risks that people need to consider.
The policy has been put together by WorkSafe New Zealand, in consultation with Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ, and DairyNZ.
Earlier this year surgeons called on the Government to ban children under the age of 16 from riding quad bikes, but Federated Farmers insisted proper training and supervision was the key to preventing accidents.
“According to Accident Compensation Corporation figures, every year more than 100 children hurt themselves on off- road vehicles in New Zealand. Of these, around one fifth will be hospitalised, and tragically, between three and six will die, ” Royal Australasian College of Surgeons New Zealand trauma committee chairman Li Hsee said.
WorkSafe New Zealand current guidance states people under the age of 16 should only ride machines of less than 90cc capacity.
In 2015 just five of the 16 vehicle fatalities that year involved quad bikes, and the figure had remained static from previous years.