The number one danger in agriculture

Host: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Written by Fiona O’Sullivan, Manager, Agriculture Unit, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Quad Bikes – you either love them or loathe them. I see them as a useful tool for doing specific tasks on some properties. If used properly by a person who has the skill and ability to operate them, and they are used for their intended purposes, these vehicles may well be an effective tool for you.

Unfortunately, statistics indicate the complete opposite – too many people don’t operate quad bikes properly, they don’t have the skills or knowledge to operate them safely, and they don’t use them for their intended purpose!

While sitting in the court during the Queensland Quad Bike Inquest, I listened to a multitude of people giving evidence to the Coroner. Although the views of many people involved in that inquest were polarized, and there were arguments for and against different research, designs, and standards, it was apparent we all agreed on one thing – the number of injuries and deaths from people operating quad bikes is unacceptable.

At the start of this week, I told you that I do like a challenge – so I met with the people who provided evidence at the Coronial Inquest. These people are leaders in their industry, influencers. I wanted to get to get them talking about quad safety. And lo and behold, they agreed with me – let’s all get together and set some ground rules. Let’s focus on the things we agree on and park the difficult ones we are polarized on, as there’s no way to make any gain on these in the current environment.

As a result, the Quad Bike Industry Reference Group was formed. This group includes industry and government stakeholders. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland likes to form industry groups such as this because they offer a great opportunity for all parties to work together on some of the curly issues. We’re looking at things like affordable and comfortable helmets, flexible and relevant training, as well as spreading safety messages word and dispelling some myths about these machines.

More than 70 people have been killed on quad bikes in Queensland since 2001 and it hurts me to admit that almost 30 per cent of all quad bike deaths in Australia occur in this state. That’s why we’ve developed the Ride ready campaign – looking to get these horrific numbers down.

The campaign features a number of targeted ads;

There’s also a Ride ready challenge to test find out how Ride ready you are.

If you are in any doubt in regards to using a quad bike for work purposes on your property, our short film, Quad bikes – the right tool for the job?, provides some general advice.

We have also released a case study film, Too Fast Too Soon – Dominic’s Story, featuring the Cocco family from Atherton. Dominic was just seven years old when he was almost killed after crashing a quad. Dom had no previous experience and wasn’t wearing a helmet when he collided with a power pole.

As part of my role, I often feature in case study films talking about quad bike safety. Appearing in A rush of blood – The Miles Paterson story was particularly tough for me.

In this instance, Miles Paterson was chasing cattle in a remote and rugged section of his property. Miles thought he had his quad on forward, but was actually in reverse. Looking to corner a rogue bull, Miles went full throttle, careering backwards over an embankment. The quad landed on top of him, cracking his ribs and sternum. Miles is a great bloke, a loving husband, and a caring employer. Thankfully Miles made a full recovery and was able to tell his story. Miles is one of the fortunate ones. Miles is my brother!