The importance of quad bike safety on the farm

Mon 29th Apr 2024
The importance of quad bike safety on the farm

Quad bikes have been around for a long time, invented in 1893 in fact. They became more widely used in the 1980s as leisure vehicles and working vehicles on farms. Their appeal to agricultural workers is obvious. They are versatile and can cover hilly, rough ground that would not be possible with a full sized 4×4 vehicle. These days they are a vital part of most farmers working life.

Generally, agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury (per 100,000 workers) of all the main industry sectors. The annual average injury rate over the last five years is around 21 times as high as the all-industry rate.

The Health and Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, have investigated numerous accidents involving quad bikes on farms in recent years. A high percentage of these have involved head injury.

As we mark World Health and Safety at Work day (28th April), Heather Kearton-Gee, Chartered Legal Executive at Coodes, explores the legal requirements for using quad bikes on the farm.

Quad bike health and safety

The design of the quad bike is simple and uncomplicated. Unfortunately, this also means that there are very few safety measures designed in. The driver sits astride a seat with no seat restraint and has to rely on shifting his or her own weight when making a turn and climbing hills to keep all 4 wheels on the ground. There is no obligation to wear a crash helmet when using a quad bike. Yet, when accidents do happen it’s often a rolling incident likely to result in a head injury.

The Health and Safety Executive have a number of recommendations to keep quad bike users safe and reduce the number of incidents. This includes:

  • all users undergo some form of training before using a quad bike
  • children under 13 should not be allowed to use any quad bikes and children over 13 should only use appropriately sized bikes
  • wearing a crash helmet is recommended as this can prevent some of the worst head injuries
  • avoid carrying passengers, indeed carrying young children as passengers on quad bikes is illegal

In some countries there are recommendations that all quad bikes should have ‘roll bars’. This would prop up the bike if it rolls so that the rider can escape. This could also potentially protect the rider from some of the most serious injuries by taking the force of the roll and preventing crushing of the head and upper body. These roll bars are currently being discussed in the UK.

There is a legal requirement for all employers to provide adequate training to those who use quad bikes for work. This also applies to self-employed workers.

It is essential to carry out regular safety checks on quad bikes, particularly when used on rough and hilly terrain. It is particularly important to check the tyre pressure, brakes and throttle.

Wearing protective clothing such as boots, long sleeves and goggles is also recommended to avoid minor injuries.

Alongside these safety requirements, there are also legal considerations around taxation, MOT and maintenance to be aware of.

Injuries whilst on the farm

The most common injuries resulting from quad bike accidents are head and spinal injuries which can be life changing or fatal. Both can affect the ability to work resulting in significant financial loss as well as the pain and suffering from the injury.

If you have suffered a quad bike injury whilst on the farm, or would like to understand more about the legalities, contact Heather via email on heather.kearton-gee@coodes.co.uk or call 01326 213 036 for personalised advice.

Mon 29th Apr 2024

Heather Kearton-Gee

Chartered Legal Executive

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