Quad bikes are ubiquitous on New Zealand farms, however their use as farming vehicles also contribute to around five work-related deaths and many more injuries each year, with the 1,000+ ACC claims costing the country $12 million dollars.
Unlike utes and tractors, quad bikes provide no safe space for the rider should it tip and roll on hilly or uneven terrain. Quad bike injuries are often the result of accidental rollovers where the rider is crushed or pinned underneath the bike.
Accident data indicates quad bike rollovers are not limited to inexperienced riders, and could happen almost anywhere on a property. Certain farming activities such as spraying or mustering stock may also increase the risk of rollovers.
Fitting crush protection devices (CPDs) to quad bikes aims to reduce serious harm or death by providing the rider with a survivable space in the event of a roll.
In 2014 WorkSafe said the use of CPDs on quad bikes was a matter of personal choice. However after considerable review of available research they revised their position in a June 2019 policy clarification, and now recommend permanently fitting CPDs to work-use quad bikes.
In light of the new recommendation and in an effort to reduce quad bike accident statistics, ACC have collaborated with WorkSafe to design a workplace injury prevention subsidy to help rural businesses buy CPDs for their quad bikes.
The subsidy will contribute $180 towards the purchase price of either a Quadbar or LifeGuard CPD, with a maximum of two CPDs per business, including those who are self-employed.
Eligibility criteria for the subsidy extends to self-employed and small- to medium-sized businesses working in the agricultural sub-sectors with the highest injury rates, which include beef, sheep and dairy farming, and hunting and trapping.
It is worth noting that fitting a CPD is not regarded as a replacement for initial and ongoing workplace training, using protective gear and adhering to safe practices. In addition, CPDs themselves could potentially be the cause of injuries during a rollover, however having assessed the evidence WorkSafe consider the overall benefits of CPDs outweigh the risks.
Safe use of quad bikes on the farm involves:
Choosing the right vehicle for the job - an alternative vehicle may be a suitable, and safer, option
Ensuring the rider has the appropriate knowledge, skills and training for the task and terrain
Using all necessary safety equipment, including wearing a helmet
Not allowing anyone under the age of 16 to ride adult-sized quad bikes
To find out more about the workplace injury prevention subsidy and how to apply, visit this ACC webpage.