THE NSW Government has launched a $2 million rebate package to encourage farmers to either replace quad bikes with safer vehicles like side-by-side vehicles, or fit them with operator protective devices.
Farmers could also use their rebates of up to $500 each to buy compliant helmets or undertake training courses.
Dr Tony Lower, director of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, applauded the move, saying it would “fast-track action” to reduce the high number of “needless injuries and deaths” from quad bike incidents.
“Quads have been the leading cause of on-farm fatalities across Australia for the past five years,” Lower said.
“In years gone by, the NSW tractor rebate program that supported the fitting of roll-over protection structures was amazingly successful in reducing deaths, and has also been replicated in other countries. We see no reason why this rebate as part of the larger quad safety initiative, cannot have a similarly positive impact in NSW.”
NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, said the development of the program was influenced by recent New South Wales and Queensland coronial inquiries into multiple quad bike fatalities, and a SafeWork NSW-commissioned study into quad bike stability, which found the vehicles were unstable and “active riding” — promoted by the quad bike industry — was “not a reliable risk mitigation strategy in the workplace.”
Farmsafe Australia chair, Charles Armstrong, said the rebate program was a “game changer,” and called for all states and territories to “put similar high-order safety approaches in place.”
“The (SafeWork-commissioned) research noted that other vehicles like side-by-sides are safer and that crush protection devices fitted to quad bikes are likely to be beneficial in terms of reducing the severity of injury and asphyxiation from crushing,” Armstrong said.
“This issue has been plaguing the agricultural sector for several years. The reluctance of manufacturers to invest and develop vehicle design changes that would make quads safer has been both frustrating and disappointing.”