Changes in user behaviour and operating practices are urgently needed to make Australian farms safer, particularly when using tractors, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and general machinery.
The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber, said that the recently released Safe Work Australia report into work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms pointed to an over-involvement of farm equipment and machinery.
And just days after the report was released, this danger was highlighted in an ABC report which detailed a rollover accident involving a quad bike rider on a farm who bravely admitted to committing a number of basic errors, including failing to wear a helmet, and the combination of riding a fully loaded (possibly overloaded) machine on steep terrain.
Mr Weber said that the 45-page Safe Work Australia report showed incidents involving vehicles accounted for 76 per cent of fatalities on farms, with tractors the most dangerous and accounting for 27 per cent of farm deaths. Quad bikes (ATVs) were involved in 21 per cent of fatalities, aircraft in 19 per cent and light vehicles in 12 per cent.
The FCAI, which represents the ATV industry in Australia, has been an outspoken advocate of safe riding practices for all farm workers and has a video on its website (www.atvsafety.com.au) which demonstrates these practices. The 5 Star ATV Safety Guide, available through ATV dealers and on the website, provides a consumer guide to selecting the right sort of vehicle (farm bike, quad bike or Side by Side) for the job.
“Clearly there needs to be a much stronger focus on safe practices on farms, changing the way people work, and the way they operate machinery. This report shows people on farms are significantly overrepresented compared with other industries, and the danger to which they are exposed is compounded by many working in isolated areas a long way from help,” Mr Weber said.
“We know what a valuable asset that an ATV is to someone working a property, as is a tractor and a host of other farm machinery.
“But as we have repeatedly said: there are some very basic rules which need to be applied in order to safely operate an ATV. We also strongly warn operators not to put fit a so-called CPD (Crush Protection Device) because these devices can cause as many injuries as they may prevent.”
The FCAI’s Five Star ATV Safety advice is to:
- Choose a vehicle that is fit for purpose – for the task and for the rider;
- Always wear a helmet;
- Take training so you are familiar with the machine’s features and limitations;
- Don’t put passengers on single-seat ATVs, or allow kids under 16 on adult ATVs; and
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidance and warnings.
You can find the full Safe Work Australia report here