Quad Bikes – drive for greater protection

Posted by James Wood, 22nd August 2016
Quad Bikes or ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles) are widely used in agricultural and forestry work. According to the HSE, vehicle related accidents are the single greatest cause of fatalities and injuries in the agricultural sector with Quad bikes responsible for 2 deaths on average per year.

Their research revealed that over one half of all Quad bike riders reported being thrown from their vehicle at some point. The problem is not exclusive to the UK – Safe Work Australia (which performs a similar role to the HSE) recorded 21 Quad bike fatalities in 2015. The problem particularly affects sit-astride or single operator Quad bikes.

Unfortunately these statistics are not confined to work. Quad bikes are increasingly used for recreational purposes, particularly by holidaymakers abroad, who hire them to get about their resort or for pleasure trips. In July of this year, ABTA reported five incidents since June 2016 involving holidaymakers using Quad bikes in Greece.

Quad bikes are powerful machines that can be unstable on uneven terrain.  The rider’s position is exposed and should their vehicle tip or rollover there is no cab or roll bar for protection. As a result a high proportion of reported accidents involve head injuries.

There has, as a consequence of this accident history, been a concerted effort to try and improve safety standards and advice for those using Quad bikes. It is not a requirement of UK law for riders to wear a helmet, but it is recommended. This year HSE have been out campaigning to impress on agricultural and forestry workers the importance of wearing head protection. They previously published an information sheet (AIS33) at the end of 2014, setting out guidance for the safe use of these vehicles with emphasis on the need to wear head protection, the provision of proper rider training and the need to perform routine safety checks and maintenance. In Australia the Government is currently running an initiative called ‘Quadwatch’ to bring together industry, manufacturers, quad bike users and community organisations to raise awareness of quad bike safety. There has also been development of crush protection devices which can be mounted onto single operator Quad bikes.

ABTA have issued guidance advising holidaymakers to ensure that they are satisfied that the agency through whom they are hiring a Quad bike is reputable and follow strict health and safety guidelines. They also advise to ensure that holidaymakers have appropriate travel insurance in place – many standard insurance policies specifically exclude cover for quad bike usage.

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