Technology to improve safety
Federated Farmers is welcoming guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes released by the Department of Labour.
‘‘Last year we started a co-ordinated quad bike safety programme and these guidelines reinforce what Federated Farmers has been telling our members,’’ said Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers vice-president and Agricultural Health and Safety Council chairman.
‘‘ Federated Farmers has actively supported measures to boost awareness and education about the safe use of quad bikes, also known as all terrain vehicles.
‘‘ In support of these new guidelines, Federated Farmers will continue to promote the adoption of technical warning and safety aids, such as tilt warning systems and GPS transponders. There’s much technology to assist safe use of quad bikes and Federated Farmers envisages talking to the manufacturers in greater detail about these.
‘‘In the past 10 years quad bikes have been involved in 17,000 injuries with recreational users involved in more than half of these accidents. Getting to recreational users is surely an important extension of a joined-up campaign,’’ Mr Aubrey said.
‘‘According to the Department of Labour there were 46 serious harm incidents involving quad bikes in 2010 plus five fatalities. The ACC averages more than 400 work-related and non work-related claims each year involving quad bikes. Yet the department says there has been an average of 845 work-related injuries each year involving quad bikes.
‘‘What doesn’t help is a muddle of statistics because getting sensible policy making demands good statistics.
‘‘ The quad bike education campaign launched last November recognised that we need to address all quad bike accidents.
‘‘Federated Farmers accepts that the guidelines may be used by the Courts under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Prosecutions under the Act have led to improved safety and practices.
‘‘Where we will be concerned is if Labour Department inspectors use these guidelines as a basis for prosecuting employers.
‘‘As the department notes in relation to the Act, ‘ these guidelines are not law’. Any move to use them as such strays dangerously into the constitutional realm. It ceases to be a guideline and instead becomes de facto regulation,’’ he said.
‘‘That circumvents due regulatory process and parliamentary oversight. It becomes a matter of principle for us.
‘‘Federated Farmers further believes that guidelines are only part of the solution, which must involve education, training and technology,’’ Mr Aubrey said.