Safety alert issued over side-by-side farm vehicle seatbelts

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, 11 October, 2021 - 12:30
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert reminding agricultural employers of their duties in relation to using seatbelts in side-by-side vehicles.

Owners or managers of an agricultural workplace have a responsibility to ensure that people working there, helping out or visiting are kept safe and healthy. This includes making sure they use known safety controls.

Side-by-side vehicles come with seatbelts, and doors or nets to keep occupants safe. There are many ways to control risks in side-by-sides and seatbelts are among the most important.

If a side-by-side overturns or is involved in a collision, there is a risk of being killed or seriously injured by being thrown out of the vehicle, crushed by it, thrown around inside it or hitting loose objects.

Seatbelts are known to help keep a person within the vehicle’s rollover protection zone and protect them from serious or fatal injuries.

There is a responsibility to ensure that anyone who operates a vehicle on your property is doing so safely, and the alert said this includes wearing a seatbelt properly.

Many side-by-side models have a speed limiter that engages when the seatbelt is not clipped in. Speed is a contributor to some incidents on side-by-side vehicles, particularly on uneven terrain.

WorkSafe Victoria said it is aware that operators frequently bypass the speed limiter by clipping the seatbelt in behind them. This deliberately overrides a known safety control and increases the risk or injury or death.

Ignoring seatbelts puts you and others at risk of death or injury, and the regulator said there may also be legal consequences, such as a WorkSafe investigation, fine or potentially workplace manslaughter charges.