Safety alert issued over quad bikes and operator protective devices

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 20 June, 2022 - 12:15
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert reminding agricultural employers of their duties to provide and maintain safe quad bikes following a number of serious quad bike incident notifications.

Where operator protective devices (OPDs) have been installed correctly on those quad bikes, the riders have walked away with relatively minor injuries, however, the alert said people are still dying in quad bike incidents in Victoria.

“Before you turn the quad bike on, plan the task you are about to perform. Ask the following questions: do I really need to use a quad bike? can I use remote monitoring instead? can I use a safer vehicle?” the alert said.

“For example, a roadworthy vehicle such as a ute … roadworthy utes have many inbuilt safety features, like airbags, seatbelts and a fully enclosed cabin, that make it much safer than a quad bike.

“If you cannot use a ute, you should consider using other vehicles such as a tractor, side-by-side or two-wheeled motorbike, which may be safer than quad bikes.

“If a safer vehicle cannot be used to perform the task, only then should you use a quad bike, which should be fitted with an OPD.”

The alert said all quad bikes on working farms should be fitted with OPDs, and to check with the OPD manufacturer or supplier to ensure the OPD you purchase is suitable for your quad bike.

OPDs that attach to towbars are most suited to quad bikes with independent rear suspension, as the towbar does not move in relation to the body mounting point of the quad bike.

If this style of OPD is fitted to a quad bike without independent rear suspension, then additional wear components such as a wear sleeve may be required to allow free movement and to minimise wear of the OPD.

If an OPD attaches to a rack then the rack must be structurally sound, and before buying an OPD to attach to a rack, the alert said to inspect the rack to make sure it mounts to the quad bike’s frame and not just to plastic fairings.

OPDs should never be fitted: to plastic racks (in line with manufacturers’ instructions); to racks that are not of solid construction; or where the racks have poor welds as they may not be able to support the load of a rolling quad bike.

“By mounting an OPD to the rack, you reduce the rack’s load-carrying capacity by the weight of the rack. Ensure that the rack will still support the loads you intend to carry on it,” the alert said.

“If an OPD cannot be fitted, the quad bike should be decommissioned. To prevent the use of a decommissioned quad bike, you should remove the key, battery and any fuel. To prevent unauthorised use, keys should never be left in vehicles.”

The alert said OPDs must be checked regularly for security and wear as part of normal pre-start checks, while employers and self-employed persons must also ensure quad bikes are maintained.

“One way this can be done is appointing suitably competent persons (such as your quad bike mechanic or service agent) to maintain the quad bike to ensure that it is safe to operate,” the alert said.

“Being ‘safe to operate’ includes the fitting and servicing of the OPD, such as inspecting for wear and security of the OPD.”