The Press

Safety experts say still too many quad bike fatalities

- ESTHER TAUNTON

Too many New Zealanders are still being killed or injured in quad bike accidents. WorkSafe statistics for the first half of the year show there have been nine agricultur­al workplace related deaths, three of them involving quad bikes.

Of the remaining five fatalities, four involved tractors, one a forklift, and one an animal.

Bronwyn Muir, managing director of OnFarmSafe­ty New Zealand, said many of the injuries and deaths could have been prevented if health and safety onfarm was taken more seriously and conversati­ons about good riding encouraged.

‘‘It’s about time health and safety systems became part of everyday activities and are incorporat­ed as part of your usual farm work routine,’’ Muir said.

Changes didn’t need to be costly or complicate­d - simple documented systems could be put in place to support dialogue and planning, Muir said.

Her call for better communicat­ion on farms reflects that of WorkSafe’s agricultur­e sector leader Al McCone, who last week said farmers and contractor­s needed to communicat­e better with their employees to ensure they were aware of risks on farms.

‘‘It’s the workers who are out there in the paddock or shed seeing first-hand what the conditions and potential risks are,’’ McCone said.

Regular conversati­ons with everyone on farms should cover ever-present risks involved in handling large animals, visiting vehicles and large machinery, as well as changeable hazards affected by weather or different seasonal work.

‘‘It might have been safe to take the farm bike up that hill yesterday when it was dry, but it may not be today if the grass is wet,’’ McCone said.

Fewer farmers were being issued with WorkSafe enforcemen­t notices or facing prosecutio­n but Muir said complacenc­y was creeping back in.

Nationwide, WorkSafe prosecuted 10 farmers in 2014 and eight in 2015. Last year there were six agricultur­al prosecutio­ns, of which four were successful. Over the same period, the number of notices, warnings and letters issued to farmers fell from 550 to 328.

Muir said the ‘‘she’ll be right’’ era was over and regulators were coming down hard on businesses that did not have suitable health and safety systems. Injury statistics show 845 people are injured on quad bikes on farm each year with 190 of them seriously hurt and an average of five farmers are killed in work-related accidents annually.

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