Farmers warned – safety first around farm vehicles after three deaths this year

SafeWork NSW continues to stress the importance of utilising necessary safety equipment such as seatbelts and helmets, especially when operating side-by-side vehicles, quad bikes and motorcycles. A series of recent serious injuries and fatalities involving these farm vehicles, including cases involving children, has raised significant concern.

In an incident at Coonamble on February 14th, SafeWork NSW spearheaded investigations into an accident where a 37-year-old male and a four-year-old child sustained severe injuries after being thrown from a quad bike. Preliminary findings suggest that they were not wearing helmets at the time.

Currently, SafeWork NSW is also probing three fatalities that have occurred since the onset of this year.

Safety tools such as seatbelts and helmets can provide an essential layer of protection in the event of a rollover. It’s important for operators and passengers using side-by-side vehicles to engage all available WHS management systems and safety features.

Statistics show that there have been over 56 quad bike-related deaths in New South Wales since 2001 and an additional 20 fatalities involving side-by-side vehicles. The risk of rollovers persists even at low speeds and on flat terrains, potentially causing riders to be pinned under these hefty machines.

For farming professionals opting to continue the use of quad bikes, SafeWork NSW advises strict adherence to manufacturer instructions, particularly those concerning load limits and balanced parcel distribution. Incorrect loading with heavy or unfixed items like chemical spraying tanks can alter the centre of gravity of the vehicle, compromising braking efficiency and jeopardizing control, subsequently elevating the risk of rollovers.

Discover more about Farm safety industries and Bluesafe SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement).

Trent Curtin, acting head of SafeWork NSW, underscored the inherent dangers associated with quad bikes. “A 400-kilo quad bike capable of hitting speeds over 50 kilometres per hour is not something a child under 16 should operate or travel in”, he warned, noting that the negligent non-use of available safety features is a tragedy.

Workplace health and safety officers, such as those using Bluesafe WHS Management System, adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards operators who are caught disregarding these safety measures, like not wearing seatbelts while driving side-by-side vehicles or without helmets when riding quad bikes, or those operating without carrying out an appropriate SWMS. Infringements could result in issuing of notices and fines.

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