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QLD: worker’s arm partially amputated following quad bike collision with mechanical pruner

Tuesday, 2 October, 2018 - 22:45
Industry news
National News

In August 2018, an incident occurred in Queensland in which a worker’s arm was partially amputated when the quad bike he was operating collided with a mechanical pruner.

One worker was operating a mechanical pruner attached to the front of a tractor to prune the bottom branches from macadamia trees.

Another worker was operating a quad bike nearby. The quad bike and its operator contacted the pruner resulting in a partial arm amputation.

This incident occurred just two weeks after another fatal incident on a rural property at Murray Upper where a property owner on a quad bike collided with the back of a stationary trailer.

He then managed to walk approximately 150m to a tractor and start driving it, but lost control and drove it down an embankment covered with long grass.

He was found on the ground on the left-hand side of the tractor with fatal injuries. Investigations are continuing.

Workplace Health & Safety Queensland said quad bikes have become very popular farm vehicles in recent years, due to their adaptability, low running cost and easy operation. Safe operation of quad bikes is essential in all situations, or they can be very dangerous.

On steep terrain or when driven at speed, quad bikes can be very unstable due to their light weight and high centre of gravity. This is made worse by a tendency to overload them and fit inappropriate attachments.

Each year there are around 620 workers’ compensation claims involving a worker being hit or crushed by a mobile plant. On average two of these claims involve a fatality, while 40 per cent (about 250 claims) result in a serious injury with five or more days off work.

The proportion which involve serious injuries is higher than for all workers’ compensation injuries, where around 30 per cent are serious.

Since 1 July 2013, there have been 67 notified work-related incidents involving quad bikes in Queensland.

Of these, nine were fatal and 38 resulted in a serious injury. Thirty-four were in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.

In November 2016 a company was fined $125,000 when a 21-year-old inexperienced worker sustained fatal head injuries. The company undertook cattle mustering using quad bikes.

The worker was employed as a station hand for the property and assisted with mustering. At the time of the incident, she was operating a quad bike mustering over 600 cattle. She was not wearing a helmet, came off the quad bike and was killed.