4 November 2009
Federated Farmers to action Coroner’s recommendation
Following the recommendation of Coroner Tim Scott, Federated Farmers has issued a member advisory on all terrain vehicle quad bike safety.
“Farmers throughout New Zealand pay their condolences to the family of Lucinda Couchman, who tragically lost her life in a quad bike accident. If Lucinda’s death rams home how vital and real quad bike safety is, then something positive will have come out of this tragedy,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.
“Quad bike safety is currently before the Agricultural Health and Safety Council (Council), which I chair. I also had no hesitation in ordering a member advisory be sent out to all members of Federated Farmers.
“Given the importance of safety, this advisory will be available to non-members of Federated Farmers. I would especially encourage small farmers and lifestyle block owners to make themselves familiar with it too and it can be obtained by calling 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646).
“Both the Council and Federated Farmers are concerned at the accident rate associated with quad bikes and are looking at measures to address some of the Coroner’s recommendations.
“The most important thing, as this tragedy reaffirms, is the wearing of helmets. Farmers must lead by example and drill this into their workers and contractors. Helmets provide indisputable protection of the brain.
“Yet there are some aspects of the Coroner’s recommendation, such as Roll-Over Protection Structures (ROPS) and safety harnesses, which would be impractical to implement.
“Quad bikes replaced two-wheeled motorbikes as the working bike of choice given their capacity to carry things – whether a working dog or cargo.
“Yet using a quad bike means you are on and off it continuously. A harness will not be used if farmers are moving only a few metres around a paddock but that’s where the risk lies.
“Similarly with roll cages, the evidence isn’t clear that ROPS would improve safety and may very well pose practical and safety issues of its own.
“A big issue Federated Farmers and the Council needs to overcome is the voiding of quad bike warranties, given all current concepts before us are aftermarket additions. The bike manufacturers need to be open-minded and communicative because regulation isn’t the answer either.
“Regulation could see farmers revert to using two-wheeled bikes or putting 4WD vehicles into situations beyond design limits. Until we’ve got a workable solution, the primary thing farmers can do is to ensure all operators understand quad bike safety and are trained accordingly. The biggest thing is to instil the wearing of safety helmets as a firm part of farm culture,” Mr Aubrey concluded.