Ve­hi­cles in spot­light

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - FRONT PAGE -

FARM­ERS and other work­ers who ride quad bikes are be­ing en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in a new on­line sur­vey to as­sist with re­search into the safety of quad bike use in the work­place.

The in­de­pen­dent Quad Bike Work­place Safety Sur­vey is be­ing un­der­taken by the Trans­port and Road Safety Re­search Cen­tre at UNSW in re­sponse to a rec­om­men­da­tion by a 2015 coro­nial in­quiry in NSW into the deaths of 11 quad-bike rid­ers in the state.

The con­fi­den­tial UNSW sur­vey, which only takes be­tween five and 10 min­utes to com­plete, is found at www. quad­bike.unsw.edu.au.

About 600 Aus­tralians and 800 New Zealan­ders have al­ready com­pleted the sur­vey, which closes later this month.

Since 2001, more than 220 peo­ple have been killed in quad-bike re­lated crashes in Aus­tralia, and thou­sands more have been se­ri­ously injured.

Quad bike ac­ci­dents are the lead­ing cause of death on Aus­tralian farms, hav­ing over­taken trac­tor ac­ci­dents more than five years ago.

Nine out of 10 quad bike rollover deaths oc­cur on farms, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural Health and Safety.

“The tragic tide of death and se­ri­ous in­jury af­fect­ing Aus­tralian farm­ers and other work­ers who use quad bikes needs to be stemmed,” project leader UNSW Pro­fes­sor Raphael Grze­bi­eta said.

“We know farm­ers are mainly be­ing killed by rollover crashes.

“A lot of them die sim­ply be­cause the weight of the quad bike stops them from be­ing able to breathe, which must be a ter­ri­ble way to go.

“We need to un­der­stand how quad-bike rollovers and other crashes oc­cur, what in­juries peo­ple sus­tain and how some peo­ple man­age to es­cape in­jury in those crashes.

“The peo­ple who ride quad bikes for work are the only ones who can tell us what is hap­pen­ing out there in the real world.

“So we hope as many farm­ers and other work­ers as pos­si­ble in NSW and across Aus­tralia will par­tic­i­pate.”

To re­duce the risk of quad bikes rolling on rid­ers and trap­ping them in a rollover, some man­u­fac­tur­ers have de­vel­oped roll-bar-like de­vices that at­tach to quad bikes called Op­er­a­tor Pro­tec­tion De­vices. Con­sumers, how­ever, are con­fronted with con­flict­ing ad­vice about the ef­fec­tive­ness of these de­vices.

While the man­u­fac­tur­ers of Op­er­a­tor Pro­tec­tion De­vices are con­fi­dent their prod­ucts can save lives and re­duce in­juries, the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries, rep­re­sent­ing quad­bike man­u­fac­tur­ers, has ar­gued that the de­vices are not ben­e­fi­cial and may even cause more harm than good – by strik­ing rid­ers or pre­vent­ing rid­ers sep­a­rat­ing from the ve­hi­cle in a crash.

At re­cent coro­nial in­quests into quad-bike deaths held in Vic­to­ria, Queens­land and NSW, ex­pert wit­nesses for and against the use of Op­er­a­tor Pro­tec­tion De­vices ar­gued their cases.

In hand­ing down her find­ings into the deaths of 11 quad-bike rid­ers in NSW In Novem­ber 2015, Deputy NSW Coro­ner Sharon Fre­und called for more re­search.

She rec­om­mended an in­de­pen­dent “real life” study be con­ducted to as­sess the ben­e­fits, risks and gen­eral ef­fi­cacy of the pro­tec­tion de­vices.

“Out­comes from this new UNSW study will an­swer some very im­por­tant re­search ques­tions about quad-bike safety that can only be an­swered through a com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of work­place quad-bike users,” Pro­fes­sor Grze­bi­eta said.

“While our re­search in­di­cates over­all ben­e­fits of such Op­er­a­tor Pro­tec­tion De­vices, the best mea­sure of their safety per­for­mance will come from this real world data.”

In previous re­search, the UNSW team ex­am­ined 53 quad-bike fa­tal­i­ties on farms be­tween 2000 and 2012 in de­tail and found that 85 per cent in­volved a rollover. In 65 per cent of cases, the rider was pinned by the bike in some way. Al­most half the fa­tal­i­ties were caused by as­phyx­i­a­tion.

SAFETY FIRST: Farm­ers can share their quad bike ex­pe­ri­ences in a new on­line sur­vey.

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