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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Group grapples with quad bikes

Group grapples with quad bikes
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New Zealand

An action group dealing with quad bike safety has failed to reach agreement on basic issues, and has now gone for more than seven months without meeting, a member of the group has told Safeguard.

Former CTU president Helen Kelly is a member of the Quad Safety Action Group (QSAG), set up by MBIE in 2014 to provide Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse with evidence about quad bike safety issues, and to support the development of training protocols, bike selection and maintenance guidelines, and standards for the development and use of attachments such as spray tanks, trailers and roll-over protection devices (ROPs).

Kelly, who joined the group as the CTU representative last year, says it has been working through recommendations issued by Coroner Brandt Shortland in late 2013 after he conducted a joint inquest into five quad bike-related deaths.

“The recommendations have just been going round and round,” she says. “The first meeting I went to there was a call to at least get agreement that children shouldn’t ride adult quads, but we couldn’t even get that. The last meeting was in about November, and there still isn’t another meeting booked because we can’t agree the agenda.”

With the group including representation from farmer organisations, community groups, quad bike manufacturers and dealers, industry training organisations, academia, ACC and WorkSafe as well as unions, Kelly says there is a wide range of often conflicting views.

“There’s such contention – anything from ‘Let’s just do some social marketing’ to ‘Let’s ban the bikes on some farms’. Having everyone involved in the consultation process is fine, but at some point the Minister’s got to step in and say: ‘Right – you tell me what I should regulate.’”

She believes there is good evidence to make ROPs compulsory – something that Queensland is now proposing – and that there should also be some form of competency-based licensing system, more consideration about the nature of farm tracks, and restrictions on who can use the bikes.

The action group has almost completed a guide, jointly developed by farmers and manufacturers, that identifies the best vehicles for different jobs, but the group’s main focus is currently on data collection and analysis, to determine the key risks associated with quad bikes, and to develop exposure measures that will allow the relative safety and efficiency of alternative ways of using them to be appraised.

While Kelly acknowledges that there’s room for improvement in the data that is collected around workplace injuries, she questions whether this is the right area for the QSAG to be concentrating so much of its effort.

“I think we’ve got all the data we need to start with. We know what’s causing the problems – things like lack of training, wrong bike for the job, fatigue, speed. We just need to think about how to change those behaviours.”

Despite stories about farmers’ resistance to change, Kelly believes they will engage with new ways of doing things as long as they feel part of the process.

“In forestry the Independent Forestry Safety Review went around the country, and people turned up in droves. They got really involved, and I believe the same thing could happen in farming if there is a structure to push it forwards.”

With the death toll in agriculture continuing to rise, Kelly says change is urgently needed.

“We need a clear instruction from the Minister to deal with the issues the coroner put forward, and to make some recommendations. We’ve got a terrible problem, and the QSAG is an attempt to develop an industry-led response to it, but there’s no pressure – either political or from industry – to make it successful.”



People Mentioned:
Helen Kelly
Organisations Mentioned:
Quad Safety Action Group
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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