Tech­nol­ogy to im­prove safety

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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.

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