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NSW Coroner recommends Quad Bike safety changes

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' at netrider.net.au started by cjvfr, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. A NSW coroner investigating quad bikes' deadly toll on adults and children as young as seven has called on workplace authorities to develop a safety rating system for the vehicles.

    Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund presided over the long-running inquest into the deaths of nine people killed in NSW riding or using so-called all-terrain bikes and side-by-side vehicles between 2009 and 2014.

    Among those killed were 55-year-old farmer Donald Eveleigh, who was not wearing a helmet when his quad bike rolled in February 2009 and threw him face down into his dam.

    Ms Freund also investigated the deaths of four children, aged just seven, nine, 11 and 13.

    Handing down her findings on Thursday, she said quad bikes were now the number one killer of workers on Australian farms.

    'It is imperative in my view that steps be taken to make these vehicles safer,' Ms Freund told Glebe Coroner's court.

    - See more at: Calls for safety stars on quad bikes
  2. Get real...
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. <snip>


    173. Witnesses in these inquests have commented as to the “false sense of security” that Quad Bikes present.198 Essentially because they have four large wheels, and are stable when stationary, the evidence indicates that it was common for people to perceive Quad Bikes to be safe and stable vehicles, requiring little or no experience to operate.

    174. However, the evidence presented in these inquests suggests that Quad Bikes (in particular) are not stable vehicles, and are susceptible to rollover. Moreover, the evidence further suggests that SSVs are also vehicles which are prone to rollover. Moreover, the evidence further suggests that SSVs are also vehicles which are prone to rollover (although to a much lesser extent than Quad Bikes), and in circumstances that may not be easily foreseen, even on flat ground.

    175. The present inquests also tragically demonstrate the role played by rider or driver error in many Quad Bike and SSV accidents. In each of the deaths under consideration, the users failed to follow various manufacturer warnings, including many that were displayed on the Quad Bike (or SSV), and those that were specified in the user manual. All Quad Bikes and SSVs, when first sold, contain warning labels advising of warned against behaviours. Those labels were visible on a number of the vehicles involved in the deaths under consideration. The labels are usually on a plate riveted to the body of the vehicle in a prominent place.

    The failures to heed the warnings clearly played a causative or contributory role in many of the deaths.

    For example:

    a) Helmets:

    All Quad Bikes and SSVs contain warning labels advising that the user should wear a helmet.
    However, in none of the accidents under consideration was the user wearing a helmet. The
    wearing of a helmet would not have made a difference in many of those deaths. However, in
    four of the deaths, I note that the evidence indicates that the rider may have survived if a helmet
    had been worn

    b) Use by children:

    All adult-sized Quad Bikes and SSVs contain explicit warnings against use by children under
    16 years of age. However, in four of the deaths under consideration, the user was a child. In
    each of these cases, the children had been given permission by their caregivers to use the
    Quad Bike or SSV at the time of the accident (and all had used the vehicles with the permission
    of their caregivers on many previous occasions prior to the accident that caused their death).

    c) Seatbelts and side protection:

    All SSVs provide seat belts, and contain warnings of the importance of using them. Seat belts
    are also emphasised in the user manuals. However, in the two deaths involving an SSV201,
    seat belts were not being used. (However I acknowledge that both of these deaths involved
    children, who should not have been using the SSV in any event).

    d) Use at speed and under the influence of alcohol:

    Alcohol and/or speed played a role in one of the deaths under consideration namely, Bradley

    176. These inquests have heard that these types of “warned against” behaviours are not aberrations. The evidence suggests that it is common for children to be permitted to use Quad Bikes and SSVs on farms. The evidence also suggests that, in the farming context at least, it is uncommon for users (children or adults) to wear helmets when using Quad Bikes and SSVs.

    177. “User error” also plays a role in less obvious ways. For example, the user manuals of each of the quad bikes under consideration warn against using the quad bikes in terrain which is “too steep”. With the benefit of hindsight, it is apparent that in a number of the deaths being considered in these inquests, the users have ridden their quad bikes in areas which were “too steep” (for example, Angela Stackman, Wesley Davis and Donald Eveleigh). There is little information in the user manuals of the quad bikes and the SSVs about ascertaining how steep is “too steep”. With the exception of the Polaris manuals, which specify a maximum incline of 25 degrees, and a Honda Manual, which recommends that users “practice” climbing on evenly spaced surfaces of less than 20 degrees,205 most of the user manuals leave to the rider the decision of whether an incline is “too steep” for the quad bike to safely traverse.

    178. Similarly, a number of the persons who are the subject of this inquest used Quad Bikes in circumstances in which, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, the Quad Bikes should not have been used. For example, both Angela Stackman and Colin Reid had medical conditions which significantly reduced their ability to “actively ride” their quad bikes. The inability to engage in “active riding” may well have contributed to the lack of stability of the quad bikes in these accidents.

    179. These less obvious instances of “user error” illustrate the sense of complacency which the riders may have had as to the stability of the quad bikes, and the lack of knowledge that the riders had as to the safe operation of these vehicles.

    180. It is clear therefore, that “user error” – both patent, and less obvious - plays a significant role in Quad Bike and SSV accidents. However, in my view this does not excuse manufacturers, or the community generally, from the fundamental obligation to take measures to reduce the unacceptable level of deaths and injuries associated with these vehicles. As Dr Crozier aptly stated in his evidence before these inquests: “The penalty for an error of judgment should not be death or serious injury.” And, as Commissioner Adler of the CPSC put it – “It is easier to re-design the product than to re-design the consumer”

    181. It is a well accepted principle of Occupational Health and Safety regimes that a hierarchy of controls is to be applied to minimise the risk to persons operating machinery. That hierarchy emphasises a holistic approach involving administrative controls such as training and coercion of users to adopt the use of personal protective equipment, but at the top of the hierarchy, and considered to be more effective, are engineering controls which design out the hazard. Representatives of the industry, who gave evidence before these inquests, Mr Toscano and Mr Vitrano209, recognised the need for continued development of Quad Bikes and SSVs to make them safer, and expressed commitment to doing so. Against that background, it was somewhat disappointing that Mr Zellner, an expert relied upon heavily by the industry, expressed what could be described as a fatalistic view that these vehicles, in effect, had been made as safe as they could be without compromising their usefulness, and any further development would turn them into a different vehicle.

    182. It appears to be accepted by each of the parties to these inquests that “there are way too many people getting hurt and killed by these vehicles”. The question that arises is whether there are any ways to reduce the numbers of people, particularly farmers, being killed and injured by Quad Bikes and SSVs.

    183. The first matter that needs to be considered is engineering solutions. (Indeed, Mr Zellner agreed with the proposition that “engineering [solutions] should be agreed first”). To this end, it is necessary to consider whether an Australian Standard(s) should be made in respect of Quad Bikes and SSVs. It is also necessary to consider whether there are other engineering solutions, such as crush protection devices, which may be effective in preventing or reducing deaths or injuries from the use of Quad Bikes and SSVs.

    184. However, it is clear that engineering solutions are not sufficient of themselves. Rather, a large part of the change must be a cultural change. In order for farmers to appreciate the need to wear helmets, to ensure that children do not use adult size Quad Bikes, to carefully assess whether the Quad Bike or SSV is able to proceed in the terrain in question, and to carefully consider whether the Quad Bike or SSV can safely carry a proposed load, it is essential that farmers become aware of the potential dangers of Quad Bikes and SSVs, including their instability and susceptibility to rollover.

    185. Cultural change is unlikely to be achieved through a single coronial recommendation. Nor is the responsibility for cultural change in the hands only of government, or of industry, or of any other body in Australian society. The bringing about of cultural change can only be achieved through the concerted efforts of a range of government and non-government bodies, working together through a variety of methods. Advertising and law reform may be two means by which cultural change may be encouraged.

    186. As information concerning the particular risks of Quad Bikes and SSVs may be efficiently transmitted via training, it is important to look at ways of increasing participation rates in training courses. Finally, in order to assist purchasers of Quad Bikes and SSVs in choosing the safest vehicle for their needs, it is appropriate to consider whether a safety rating system should be established for Quad Bikes and SSVs.

    187. For these reasons, I considered recommendations in the following areas:

    a) b) Australian Standards;
    c) Training/ licensing;
    d) Helmets;
    e) Crush protection devices;
    f) Seatbelts;
    g) Personal locator beacons;
    h) Children;
    i) Advertising/ education; and
    j) Police investigations.


    Link: Decision of Deputy State Coroner Freund on 26 November 2015

    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. k) buy a bike instead.
  5. Not sure what changes they plan to implement considering most would have been on private property.
    Farmer joe is unlikely to wear a helmet, stop his kids using a quadbike or consider not carrying loads, farm life is another world foreign to most city go'ers like myself.

    Rollover bars already exist for quads, won't stop a rollover however might stop it crushing the driver.

    The above suggestions are just as stupid as making safety improvements to bikes which naturally always want to fall over.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. 226. However, it must also be acknowledged that the criminalisation of Quad Bike and SSV use without a helmet on private land raises difficult public policy questions, particularly as to enforcement. In these circumstances, I accept the submission of Counsel Assisting that it would be appropriate to refer this issue to the NSW Law Reform Commission for further consideration. Furthermore, for the reasons I have outlined at [217], I also refer the matter to the NSW Attorney-General for consideration.

    227. In the meantime, it is submitted that greater efforts should be taken to convey the message that criminal liability may apply to farmers (and others who conduct a business or undertaking) who fail to provide suitable head protection. The message should also be conveyed that criminal liability might also attach (for example) to the “family company” of the sole-practitioner farmer who himself/herself fails to use a suitable helmet in the workplace.

    228. Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the preceding paragraphs I make the following recommendations in relation to the use of helmets:

    a) That the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Polaris Industries and the Australian
    Quad Distributors Association in consultation with SafeWork Australia take steps to develop
    an Australian Standard through Standards Australia relating to the design and manufacture
    of helmets for use with Quad Bikes, side-by-side and related vehicles.

    b) That until an Australian Standard for helmets is issued, SafeWork NSW consider adopting
    and promoting the use of helmets which comply with New Zealand Standard NZS 8600:2002.

    c) That the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Polaris Industries, and Australian Quad
    Distributors Association work to promote the importance of helmets, and the range of suitable
    helmets, at point of sale.

    d) That SafeWork NSW conduct a campaign, aimed at farming and other workplaces, to promote
    awareness of the criminal liability which may attach to persons and corporations who fail in the
    course of a business or undertaking, to provide and enforce the use of helmets by persons using
    Quad Bikes and SSVs.

    e) That consideration be given, by the NSW Law Reform Commission and the NSW Attorney-General,
    to the introduction of legislation requiring the use of a suitable helmet by all persons using
    Quad Bikes, side-by-side and related vehicles.​

    • Like Like x 1
  7. On commercial farms employing outside workers I can see a case to ensure safety gear is worn, but farmers feeding their sheep on their own paddocks the system has to get real and realize the recommendations aren't worth the paper its written on similar to the warning stickers they mention.

    Would like to see if 'helmets' would have actually helped or if its just an emotional knee jerk response from the courts. My knowledge from only casually working on orchids is most injuries are related to crush injuries, being trapped under the unit and lengthy response times until the accident is found with most accidents generally occurring at low speeds.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. The single biggest problem with quads is they are ridden by muppets that don't have the skillset to ride a motorcycle.

    Well on the recreational side anyway.

    On the non-recreational side it's part of the lack of EHS mindset that exists in the rural community.
  9. I can't see there is a need for quads at all. An ag bike can do most of the work and a ute can do any heavy carrying required. (note spoken from experience on hilly sheep farms only, might be different in other applications).

    If people can't learn how to ride a bike then an offroad scooter is probably a safer option -- impossible to get caught under that.
  10. Yeah. There's "incident prevention" and there's "damage mitigation". Helmets for motorcyclists won't stop a lowside, but they might stop brain injuries. Seatbelts and crumple zones don't prevent car accidents, but they reduce the damage to the occupants. IMHO both incident-prevention and damage mitigation are useful.

    For what it's worth, about half of all ATV fatalities are rollovers, and rollovers are ~75% of ATV fatalities on farms (2011, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety). I don't have the stats at hand right now, but more rollover fatalities are due to asphyxiation (compression of the diaphragm because of the ATV pinning the rider's chest down) or drowning (pinned under the ATV in water) rather than blunt-force trauma from being struck by the ATV during rollover. So, in terms of the epidemiology of how people are killed by ATVs, rollover hoops which keep the ATV from pinning the rider down could make a huge difference to the fatality rate for rollover-prone ATVs. As you say, there are already several aftermarket ones available.

    One of the things explored in recent quad bike inquests was whether or not rollover hoops would increase propensity to rollover, and how many additional fatalities there would be from people being struck by the rollover hoop vs how many lives would be saved by preventing riders being pinned. I don't yet know the outcome of that debate and where it fits into the coroner's decision.
  11. I worked on a cattle station with a quad bike. It was a damn useful bit of kit and I disagree that a motorbike can do everything a quad can. Quads can carry more, have better traction for towing trailers, and are far easier when getting to places in the wet season, a motorbike won't go places these things can.

    The company I worked for had a rollbar fitted because of company policy, eveyone who rode it felt it made it more dangerous. A quad bike rollover is typically not on concrete. So a rollover bar is likely to just sink into the ground, and not let you slide off in the process.
    I can just imagine how ridiculous it would be trying to ride a quad with a seatbelt so you can't weight transfer, whilst having a rollover bar. You might survive the rollover, but you will have far more of them!

    Next they will be advising motorbikes get seatbelts as well.
  12. The deputy coroner conceded that a roll bar may be dangerous in some circumstances, but not all.

    Crush Protection Devices (“CPDs”): Whether there is sufficient evidence to determine whether crush protection devices may be effective in preventing injury or death in Quad Bike accidents or whether CPDs may increase the probability of injury or death in such accidents. If there is insufficient evidence, whether further research should be conducted as to the effectiveness of CPDs.

    229. It is clear that, in some circumstances, a CPD may be effective in preventing injury or death in a Quad Bike accident. In some of the deaths under consideration, for example, Anthony Waldron and Colin Reid, a CPD may well have saved a life.

    230. However, it is also clear that, in some circumstances, a CPD may have the effect of increasing the risk of injury or death. In particular, the fitting of a CPD may adversely affect a rider’s ability to “separate” from the vehicle in the event of rollover, and may reduce the ability of the quad bike to continue to roll “off” the rider in a rollover.

    231. Much research has been done, including computer modelling and simulated accidents involving dummies on the effects of fitting a CPD. The authors of the TARS report have concluded that:

    “In regard to injury prevention in rollovers for the workplace environment,
    two OPD’s (Quadbar and Lifeguard) are likely to be beneficial in terms of
    severe injury and pinned prevention in some low speed rollovers typical of
    farm incidents. They do not reduce the incidence of rollover. In some specific
    cases injury risk could be increased although there is currently no real world
    recorded evidence of this.”

    On the other hand, Mr Zellner asserts that there is no valid, scientific evidence establishing that fitting CPDs to Quad Bikes results in a net safety benefit.

    232. CPDs were the subject of lengthy evidence in the Victorian and Queensland inquests. Neither inquest was able to resolve the question of whether CPDs were more or less protective.


    Freund I assume?

    Strewth - give me a break.

    Adults - take responsibility for your own actions.

    Parents - Use discretion and be responsible for your own children.

    I was riding around on farm bikes well before I hit double figures. My parents knew about it, and were responsible for my training, and what happened to me. I wonder how much of a better person I would have been to have my parents responsibility replaced by bureaucrats.

    For those kids that don't have responsible parents- I feel for them - I really do, but mandating and legislation isn't going to help replace a caring family - and is only going to serve to inflict pain on those families that do.
  14. Can you imagine trying to implement licensing and training in the bush.... you are lucky if you have a school nearby... This is why people in the Bush don't trust city folk.