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Laws to put curbs on farm quad bikes

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NEW national laws are under consideration to make it compulsory for all farm users of quad bikes to wear helmets. And children under 16 may be banned from operating adult-sized four-wheel motorcycles on farms.

The legislative moves are set to follow the launch of a national strategy aimed at reducing the number of serious farm accidents involving quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles.

They are now the leading cause of death and injury on Australian farms, causing 18 deaths already this year. Since 2000, there have been 140 fatalities on farms linked to quad bikes, many of them children engaged in mustering and other farm work.

More than half the deaths were caused by crushing and asphyxiation after rollovers.

The new national strategy, developed this year by Workplace Safety authorities from all Australian states and New Zealand, together with farmers and motorcycle manufacturers, recommends the mandatory wearing of helmets on quad bikes.

A certified national rider training program for farmers and farmhands using quad bikes -- another recommendation of the taskforce -- will be launched tomorrow at Dubbo in central western NSW as part of National Safety Week.

John Watson, chairman of the workplace safety regulatory group, believes the high number of farm deaths linked to quad bikes makes regulation urgent.

"We've got to do more -- there are too many accidents and deaths on farms now," said Mr Watson, head of occupational health and safety with WorkCover NSW.

"A move forward with legislation is the way to go. In the meantime, this strategy shows we think helmets and limits on children under 16 riding adult bikes should be mandatory."

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