WorkCover NSW has released new research aimed at reducing the number of quad bike accident injuries and deaths in the country.
Quad bike incidents can lead to public liability claims, with Peter Dunphy, executive director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, claiming they are the primary cause of fatalities at Australian farms.
The $1.3 million study was conducted by the University of NSW’s Transport and Road Safety unit, which carried out world-first testing into quad bike standards.
“Since 2001, more than 210 people have died as a result of quad bike incidents, with 67 per cent of those occurring on farms. Of these, around 20 per cent involve children under 16,” Mr Dunphy stated.
He added that the research is part of a wider Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities scheme targeting quad bike injuries and deaths. The WorkCover executive described the number of incidents currently occurring as unacceptable.
“Tests were carried out on agricultural and recreational quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles for static stability, dynamic handling and rollover crash worthiness – with and without load and with and without operator protective devices,” he explained.
Quad bike recommendations made
The University of NSW Transport and Road Safety unit performed 1,000 tests on 16 quad bikes over a period of 18 months. Following the trials, the researchers put forward various suggestions for how to prioritise safety.
Firstly, the scientists advised introducing a consumer safety rating system for vehicles, as well as retrofitting protective devices for existing quad bikes on farms. Boosting awareness and education regarding safe ways of using the vehicles were also recommended, as was preventing people under the age of 16 from using adult quad bikes.
These suggestions followed a recent public liability case heard in NSW where an 11-year-old girl suffered injuries after falling from a quad bike at a recreational centre. She was eventually awarded $136,000 when the operator was found liable for her accident.
Professor Raphael Grzebieta, head of the quad bike research team, said the study provided valuable findings that can help people make more informed decisions over vehicle safety.
Mr Dunphy confirmed WorkCover would examine the research to see whether it can help guide discussions regarding an agreed national position on how to move forward with quad bike legislation.
“There are around 300,000 quad bikes in operation across Australia and we are committed to working with industry to deliver safety improvements to prevent injuries and most importantly, save lives,” he concluded.