Safe Work Australia Highlights Four Wheeler Safety

Safe Work Australia reported July 14 that 115 people have lost their lives on quad bikes in Australia since 2011, with almost two-thirds of those deaths occurring on farms.

As Safe Work Australia and other organizations mark Farm Safety Week nationwide this week, SWA is focused on four wheelers -- called quad bikes there -- because they are a major cause of deaths and serious injuries in rural areas. Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the country, and the agency reported July 14 that 115 people have lost their lives on quad bikes in Australia since 2011, with almost two-thirds of those deaths occurring on farms.

So far this year, nine quad bike fatalities have occurred, more than half of them involving rollovers. Two victims were under the age of 17.

"One of the most effective ways to prevent quad bike injuries and deaths is to critically assess if a quad bike is the right vehicle for the job," said Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter. "Side-by-side vehicles may be more suitable in rural workplaces where the operator stays seated and generally have rollover protection structures and restraints like seat belts."

Health and safety regulators in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria are currently running programs to improve quad bike safety, including rebates for quad bike training and buying alternative vehicles.

Farm Safety Week is a nationwide initiative held July 17-21, 2017, to raise awareness of farm safety issues and highlight practical steps farmers can take to

From Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2016, there were 106 quad bike fatalities in Australia:

  • Almost 8 percent (eight fatalities) were children aged 11 or younger, almost one‑third (34 fatalities) were adults older than 60.
  • Almost half were workers.
  • Almost half (55 fatalities) died in rollovers, and 69 died on a farm or property.
  • Of the 106 fatalities, at least 45 were due to unstable or uneven terrain, such as an incline, a ditch, an embankment, sand, or mud.

Quad bikes can be unstable on anything but flat terrain, the agency warns. To maintain stability in difficult terrain, quad bikes need an active riding technique—shifting the rider's body weight—that can be beyond the physical capacity of some riders because it can lead to fatigue and an inability to keep control of the bike, and this is especially the case for older people and children. Losing control of a quad bike often results in a rollover, which is the leading cause of quad bike fatalities.

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