Quad bikes used by Commonwealth employers will be retro-fitted with crush protection devices, according to Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten.
Federal employers will also put their workers through rider safety training and review their use of quad bikes and where possible, consider possible substitution with less hazardous equipment.
“The immediate steps I am announcing are the first pieces of the jigsaw in what is a complex regulatory process,” Minister Shorten said.
“We have heard competing views about the benefits or dangers of engineering and design changes to quad bikes, and their possible impact on the death and injury rate.”
He recently directed Comcare to implement the changes, and also said the Commonwealth workplace safety regulator would work with other regulators to sponsor the development of a technical standard to underpin the design, manufacture, testing and installation of crush protection devices for quad bikes during manufacture or for after-market applications.
“This year alone there have been 13 deaths, the majority of which occurred on farms, including a 38 year old man only last weekend,” he said.
Half of those people killed on farms while riding quad bikes were children, and these vehicles are the leading cause of death on farms. There have also been 32 people injured by quad bikes on farms this year, along with 29 injured off farms and at unknown locations.
Minister Shorten said there are an estimated 220,000 quad bikes in use in Australia, but years of warnings, extra training and recommendations for helmet use had failed to reduce the death and injury rate.
A discussion paper on the issue is available on the Safe Work Australia website.