Quad (four wheeled) motor bikes have overtaken tractors as the leading cause of death on Australian farms.
Dairy Australia's Dr Pauline Brightling, who manages The People in Dairy Program, said quad bikes were very useful for many every-day tasks on dairy farms, but their safety could be dramatically improved by following a few simple steps.
The first is to think twice before jumping on the quad. Ask yourself, is the quad the most suitable equipment for the job? Dairy farmers usually have several vehicle options – a ute, quad bike and a tractor at least. Don't just assume the quad is the best option because it is the most convenient.
Select the vehicle that has the lowest risk in the given circumstances. For example, the ute is the option for transporting more than one person, and the ute or tractor may be a better option for towing a heavy load.
Once you decide the quad is the best option for the job, make sure it's used safely. Don't overload a quad bike – especially watch the weight and stability of spray tanks. Specify the jobs for which the quad is to be used, the conditions of operation (including speed, load and tow limits) and the areas on the farm on which the quad is to be operated; specify 'no-go zones.' Make sure everyone involved with the farm understands this policy.
Enforce restrictions on quad bike use. Riders must be 16 years or older. Do not carry passengers, take the ute instead. Helmets should always be worn when riding a quad bike. Prevent accidents by ensuring the quad is well-maintained, especially the brakes, and keep tyres inflated to the manufacturer's specifications.
There are trends on farms towards safer alternatives, such as using quads fitted with a suitably tested crush protection device (CPD) or replacing quads with side-by-side vehicles. Crush protection devices improve the safety of quad bikes and should be considered by all owners of quad bikes.
Side-by-side vehicles are worth serious consideration. They may be more expensive to buy than quad bikes but they are more stable, more versatile and come fitted with seat belts, a small tray and an approved ROPS – roll over protection structure. They have all terrain tyres, suitable for a range of paddock conditions, and a lower centre of gravity.
The People in Dairy Program is an example of your levy at work. For more information on this and other examples of your levy at work visit Dairy Australia