ATV farm vehicle fatalities come under scrutiny of SafeWork NSW

Following three fatal accidents already this year the demonisation of irresponsible care when operating a Quad bike or similar has resurfaced

Compliance regulations in effect since 11 October 2021 have made Quad bike models much safer – but older less safe models built prior still roam paddocks and may pose a safety risk

SafeWork NSW is reminding farmers to wear seatbelts, use helmets and choose the right vehicle when using side-by-side vehicles, quad bikes and motorcycles after a spate of incidents.

On-farm accidents involving children where there have been serious injuries or even fatalities have raised the alarm for proper conduct while using farm vehicles.

In the most recent incident on 14 February 2024 at Coonamble NSW, SafeWork investigated the incident where a 37-year-old man and a four-year-old suffered serious injuries when ejected from a quad bike.

Initial enquiries indicate that neither was wearing a helmet.

SafeWork is currently investigating three fatalities that have occurred since 1 January 2024, including:

            •          On 8 January in Goohli NSW, a side-by-side vehicle being driven by an adult with two child passengers was mustering cattle when the ATV rolled into a dam trapping and causing the death of one of the child occupants. Initial enquiries indicate that none of the occupants may have been wearing their seatbelts.

            •          On 25 January in Narromine NSW, a 51-year-old man died after being ejected from a moving side-by-side vehicle while undertaking farm-related work. Again, initial enquiries suggest that the seatbelt was not being worn.

            •          On 1 February a 32-year-old female contractor was thrown from a motorbike and suffered fatal injuries on a property 120km east of Tibooburra NSW while not wearing a helmet.

SafeWork is reminding people using side-by-side vehicles to use all available safety features, including wearing seatbelts and helmets which will help protect operators and passengers from fatal or serious injuries in case of roll over.

Since 2001, there have been more than 56 deaths in NSW from quad-bike incidents.  A further 20 people have died on side-by-side vehicles. Rollovers can occur even at low speeds and on flat terrain, leaving riders trapped, or crushed under the quad bike.

For farmers that continue to use quad bikes, SafeWork advises users to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly relating to load limits and keeping loads balanced. 

Heavy or unstable loads like chemical tanks for spraying can affect braking, alter the centre of gravity and make the vehicle difficult to control and more prone to rollover.   

For more information on Farm Safety, please visit https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/your-industry/agriculture,-forestry-and-fishing/farming.  

Fines will be issued without notice

Head of SafeWork NSW, Trent Curtin adds this timely reminder, “A quad bike can weigh 400 kilos and reach speeds of more than 50kph. They are extremely dangerous and are certainly not a machine a child under the age of 16 should ever operate or be a passenger on.

“The safety features on your vehicle could save your life. It is an unnecessary tragedy when workers operating vehicles with numerous safety features including roll-over protective structures and seatbelts lose their lives by simply not wearing their seatbelts. 

“Where SafeWork Inspectors come across workers operating side-by-side vehicles not wearing seatbelts or operating quad bikes without wearing helmets or having an operator protective device fitted, they will be taking a zero-tolerance approach and issue notices and fines,” Trent Curtin added.

Quad bike manufacturers have been issued with compliance regulations to make their models much safer since 11 October 2021.

Read why it is more of a risk to own and operate any Quad bikes built prior to 11 October 2021 on this link.

See what happened to Quad bike brands that chose not to comply with the 11 October 2021 legislation on this link.