This week marks National Farm Safety Week and, for its 19th year, the event is putting a spotlight on quad bikes.
From July 17 to 21, FarmSafe will be looking at on-farm vehicle safety. Currently, quad bikes, tractors and machinery are the leading causes of farm deaths in Australia.
The NSW government wants to introduce a five star safety rating system for quad bikes, a key recommendation of the NSW Deputy Coroner’s 2015 inquest into quad bike deaths.
According to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, quad bikes have caused nine farm deaths so far this year, accounting for almost a third of all deaths on farms.
Two children under 15 years old have been killed by quad bikes so far this year.
The number has risen from last year. By June, three people had died from quad bike accidents in 2016. there were 10 quad bike deaths reported for the whole of 2016.
Across Australia, a further 23 non-fatal quad bike injuries occurred on farms in the first half of 2017. In 2016, there were 69 reported injuries from quad bikes.
The rise in vehicle injuries on farms has prompted a response from the NSW Ambulance service.
Over the past two years, paramedics attended to 319 incidents involving quad bikes in NSW.
In the Southern NSW zone, paramedics were called to 23 incidents involving a quad bike, almost half of all farm-related incidents for the region.
“The terrain should be assessed before using a tractor or quad bike to avoid rollovers," NSW Ambulance Superintendent Steve Flanagan said.
“Often these vehicles are used in remote locations and if a person becomes trapped, it can be many hours before the alarm can be raised and help arrives."
Supt Flanagan also cautioned against children using quad bikes.
“Children don’t have the experience or strength to operate these vehicles or fully appreciate the risks they could be exposed to," he said.
Quad bikes are on the agenda at the NSW Farmers’ Annual Conference this week.
Tuesday afternoon's industrial relations policy session will include a debate on quad bike safety and workers compensation.
The NSW Farmers’ Annual Conference is hosted in Sydney, bringing 200 farmers from across the state to discuss industry issues.
A quad bike safety rating system would come under the NSW government's $2 million quad bike safety improvement program.