Quad Bike Accidents

Following on from our previous article where we discussed the topic of on-farm injury and death, a report from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety has now been released and it shows that 69 people lost their lives on farms last year, up from 54 in 2014.

Quad bikes and tractors accounted for 40% of those deaths, with 9% being children. Death while riding a quad bike topped the list, with 15 people killed in 2015.

A coronial inquest into quad bike accidents and deaths was held last year and heard that one in five people killed in a quad bike accident in Australia was a child.

Recommendations to reduce the number of quad bike accidents and improve the safety of quad bikes riding included:

  • Banning children under the age of 16 years from riding the vehicles;
  • Mandatory licensing;
  • The use of roll bars;
  • The use of safety rating systems; and
  • The need for specialist training.

The AgForce Queensland president has also suggested that the biggest factor in saving lives would be the use of a helmet. She highlighted that the use of quad bikes were a necessary tool on the farm and that the agricultural industries needed quad bikes for a range of tasks.

So what happens if you are injured while using a quad bike while working on a farm?

In this article we examine your rights to make a claim in the event of a quad bike accident, as well as identify some safety tips for operating quad bikes on farms.

If you are injured as an employee while operating a quad bike on a farm in Queensland you are entitled to receive workers compensation benefits from WorkCover Queensland if:

  • You are a “worker” as recognised by the scheme; and
  • You suffer personal injury arising out of, or in the course of employment if the employment is a significant contributing factor to the injury.

These benefits can include payment of medical expenses and lost wages.

Whether or not an employee can bring a common law claim for damages for their injury (in addition to receiving the compensation benefits) will depend upon whether their employer has been negligent.

The injured employee will have to prove that the employer failed to keep them safe while riding the quad bike and this failure has led to their injury. Failures on the part of the employer could include:

  • Failing to keep the quad bike maintained;
  • Failing to provide the use of protective equipment while operating the quad bike;
  • Failing to provide the necessary training on how to operate the quad bike;
  • Failing to provide adequate supervision while operating the quad bike.

Greater awareness of safety by both employers and workers while using quad bikes will hopefully lead to fewer quad bike accidents, deaths and injuries in the workplace.

To help keep safe and avoid quad bike accidents Worksafe Queensland has the following tips:

  • Consider whether a quad bike is the right tool for a particular task;
  • Ensure all riders are trained;
  • Protect yourself by wearing a properly fitting helmet, eye protection, gloves, sturdy footwear and clothing that covers arms and legs;
  • Reduce your speed, especially if you are on rough or uneven ground;
  • Be aware of the terrain and objects which have changed due to rain or may be hidden in long grass;
  • Leave attachments behind that you don’t need. Towing attachments adds to the overall weight and instability of the bike. Take extra care when carrying liquid loads as the weight will shift when turning corners or crossing slopes making the bike unstable;
  • Consider whether your quad bike would benefit from the installation of a crush protection device;
  • Never let children under 16 years use an adult-sized quad bike.

Quad bike incidents are now among the leading causes of injuries and deaths on farms. This is an important realisation for both employers and employees about how dangerous quad bikes can be.

Those who are not killed in a quad bike accident are often left with permanent injuries.

If an employee is injured quad bike accident they are entitled to receive workers compensation benefits to cover such things as lost wages and medical expenses. Employers too should be aware that they may be liable in negligence for failing to keep their employee safe while operating the quad bike.

Given that quad bikes are such an essential tool on many farms greater awareness and training is required to ensure everyone is kept as safe as possible while operating the vehicle. This will go a long way to ensuring that both employers and employees can return home safe to their families at the end of the day.

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