FBD Risk Manager
New quad bike regulations
In recent years, the number of fatal and serious work-related accidents involving quad bikes, in particular in agriculture and forestry, has given rise to concern. As a result, new regulations aimed at reducing the number of accidents involving quad bikes are being implemented. New legal requirements regarding quad bike operation under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations are due to come into effect on November 20, 2023. This means that quads and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a key safety focus this year.
What does this mean for farmers and contractors?
These regulations require that all quad bike operators in all workplaces must have successfully completed a quad bike training course, provided by a registered training provider, to a QQI Standard or equivalent. Additionally, all operators must wear appropriate head protection while operating a quad or ATV. The lead-in time to the new regulations was designed to allow sufficient time for training bodies to build capacity and for the operators of quad bikes to do this professional training. Quad bikes are designed to cope with a wide variety of terrain types and so are a fantastic aid for farm work. However, if operated unsafely they quickly create a risk of death or severe injury. The most important safety issues with quads are training, experience, wearing personal protective equipment, maintenance and a good knowledge of the terrain. The minimum age for farmwork-type quad bikes is at least 16 years of age and this is usually clearly stated on the quad.
CAUSES OF DEATH/INJURY
The main causes of deaths or serious injury from quad bikes are from:
- Being thrown off during vehicle overturns or after loss of control;
- Collisions with structures, trees, poles, other vehicles, etc;
- Being trapped/asphyxiated/drowned under an overturned machine; and
- Pedestrians being struck or run over by a quad bike.
CAUSES OF ACCIDENTS
Causes of accidents are usually one, or more, of the following:
- Lack of formal training or experience;
- Poor physical mobility;
- Excessive speed, especially turning at excessive speed;
- Carrying a passenger or an unbalanced load;
- Tipping on a bank, ditch, rock, rut or bump;
- A steep slope combined with other factors, e.g. ground or load conditions;
- Towing excessive loads with un-braked equipment; and
- Poor quad maintenance.
All quad bike operators must be trained in safe operating skills and information about how to operate a quad bike safely. The training must include the use of any towed equipment or attachments if applicable.
Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
Operators must always wear an approved helmet. A helmet can significantly reduce the number and severity of head injuries. Refer to the quad manufacturer's’ recommendation. A helmet should fit comfortably and securely. Wearing a helmet with a face shield or goggles protects the eyes and will also aid vision.
Additional PPE such as gloves and safety footwear should also be worn.
Never carry a passenger on a quad bike.
The long seat is for active riding, for operators shifting their body weight backwards and forwards for different slope conditions, and is not for carrying passengers.
Trailed equipment and loads
Overloading a quad can lead to an imbalance in weight distribution which can negatively affect braking. Ensure all riders know the recommended towing capacity and drawbar loading limit. Always operate within these requirements. Remember that the ability to control the quad using body movements will be considerably reduced when carrying a load or towing a trailer.
When selecting trailed equipment look for:
- Over run brakes;
- Swivel hitch drawbar;
- Bead lock rims on wheels;
- A low centre of gravity and a wide wheel track;
- A long drawbar; and
- Attachment points for securing a load.
Quad bike maintenance and checks are essential to ensure the safe operation of a quad. Tyre pressures should be checked regularly and servicing should be undertaken in accordance with manufacturers’ guidelines. A poorly maintained quad bike can lead to accidents.
Always Think Safety First