NSW Coroner’s recommendations into quad safety released

A NSW CORONER’S inquest into the deaths arising from quad bike accidents has just been released, providing numerous recommendations to improve safety.

Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Sharon Freund has recommended a safety rating system for quads and side-by-sides, as well as introducing Australian Standards for manufacture, design and mandatory training.

Other recommendations from Magistrate Freund include banning children under 16 from operating adult sized quads or side-by-sides and developing an Australian Standard for helmets used with quads.

Magistrate Freund could not determine the effectiveness of crush protection devices, though she did recommend SafeWork NSW, SafeWork Australia, and the manufacturers of Quadbar and Lifeguard crush protection devices collaborate to conduct independent study to assess their effectiveness.

Managing director of Quadbar and member of the Australian Quad Distributors Association, John Robertson said the doubt over determining the effectiveness of crush protection devices in terms of operator separation remains because every situation is different.

Mr Robertson also welcomed the Coroner’s recommendation to prohibit children under 16 operating adult sized machinery and is also working on releasing a helmet specifically designed for quad use.

The helmet is much lighter than a motorcycle helmet, which is “much more suitiable for agricultural use,” Mr Robertson said.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has previously said in a press release dated October 1, it is “interested in the development of a star rating for ATVs and SSVs that provides consumers with real-world information about the safety and comparative performance of a vehicle. ATVs, in particular, require correct use and some active riding to maximise safety and performance.”

The FCAI also criticised the star rating system proposed by the University of NSW Traffic and Road Safety team because it believes the tests do not relate to real world data. It cannot accurately inform quad and side-by-side customers about the relative safety of one vehicle versus another.

The FCAI has also previously welcomed recommendations from the QLD Coroner’s Inquest into ATV Safety delivered August 3, and has set aside funding for advertising and education, which is expected to be combined with a SafeWork NSW public media campaign to increase awareness on the risks of unsafe quad and side-by-side operation.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy said SafeWorkNSW is currently reviewing the findings alongside the University of NSW Transport and Road Safety quad bike crash performance project recommendations.

“Initiatives recommended in the research report were considered as part of the NSW and QLD Coronial Inquiries into quad bike deaths,” Mr Dunphy said.

“The research recommendations and outcomes of the coronial findings have the potential to lead to major improvements in quad bike design and safety.

“The NSW Government and SafeWork NSW remain committed to working with the agricultural industry and other work health and safety jurisdictions to make major inroads into reducing the unacceptable levels of quad bike deaths in our community.”

There have been over 200 quad related deaths in Australia since 2001, including 18 in 2015 alone.

Approximately two-thirds of these deaths have occurred on farms.

Major trauma from quads and side-by-sides have almost doubled from 26 in 2010 to 51 in 2012.

More to come.

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