Quad bikes are the leading cause of fatalities on Australian farms. The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (AgHealth) found that since 2001 over 150 Australians have died in quad bike incidents.
The Gillard Government together with farming organisations, unions, industry and community groups today gave their commitment to raise awareness of quad bike safety and provide farmers with stronger support networks.
The announcement comes after a roundtable meeting held in Melbourne today between the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten, senior representatives from farmer organisations, industry, unions, farm safety organisations, officials from Safe Work Australia and other interested representatives to improve quad bike safety.
“Death and injury are increasing at an unacceptable rate. AgHealth found that 23 people died last year and 10 people have died so far this year as a result of quad bike incidents,” said Mr Shorten.
“All options have to be on the table to reduce trauma. I’m disturbed that 20-30 years solely relying on training and education does not seem to be reducing death and injury.”
“In 2011 AgHealth reported almost 80 percent of all quad bike fatalities occurred on farms and since 2001 almost half the deaths have been due to rollovers.
“In fact, quad bike fatalities out rank tractor fatalities on farms by almost two to one.
“Last year the oldest victim from a quad bike fatality was a 94 year old man and the youngest was an 11 year old boy.
“As recently as Wednesday this week, there was the tragic death of a teenage girl as a result of falling off a quad bike.
According to Safe Work Australia data around 60 percent of quad bike fatalities between 2003-04 to 20010-11 were people either under 25 year or 65 years or over in age.
At today’s roundtable, representatives agreed to establish a QuadWatch initiative. QuadWatch will be a community based network bringing together farmers, community groups, emergency services and local government.
“The Gillard Government will work with local government to facilitate opportunities for groups to meet in each regional and rural community in relation to this important issue.”
“I am very pleased that such a wide range of community organisations came together today and expect that farmers will greatly benefit from the advice and support of these groups in their local communities.”
To support these local networks there will be a QuadWatch webpage established and maintained by Safe Work Australia.
The QuadWatch webpage will provide information and links on how to reduce quad bike incidents, quad bike safety research, work health and safety information and contact details for state and territory regulatory bodies all on the one site.
Community groups, academic researchers and state and territory regulatory bodies will be encouraged to provide content to this website ensuring Australian farmers have the most up to date information to protect themselves, their families and their workers from quad bike fatalities.
The QuadWatch website can be found at: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/QuadWatch
In addition to QuadWatch, Safe Work Australia will release an issues paper before the end of August seeking submissions on potential improvements to quad bike safety including crush protection devices.
A one day forum between all levels of government, farming organisations, unions, industry and community groups will be held to discuss submissions on quad bike safety improvement coming out of the issues paper.
When the issues paper is released submissions will be called from industry, academics, regulatory authorities, community groups and other interested parties.