Farm death toll on the rise

The number of on-farm deaths in Australia during 2015 have risen from the previous year, with quad bikes accounting for the main cause of death.
PHOTO: FILE
The number of on-farm deaths in Australia during 2015 have risen from the previous year, with quad bikes accounting for the main cause of death. PHOTO: FILE

The number of on-farm deaths in Australia during 2015 have risen from the previous year, with quad bikes accounting for the main cause of death.

The quad bike deaths accounted for 15 of the overall cases, with two of those involving children.

Research was conducted by the Australian Centre for Agriculture Health and Safety (ACAHS ) based on media coverage from the 2015 Australian Farm Deaths and Injuries Media Monitors Snapshot.

A number of cases involved tractors (13) and other types of machinery (7). There was a total of 92 non-fatal incidents that were highlighted in the report, with quads being the main cause involving 41 incidents.

ACAHS centre director Tony Lower said the figures showed an increase on the previous year, and that each case brought significant impact to families and communities.

"It just re-emphasises how important it is to have safety as a major priority in your farm business," he said.

Recommendations to reduce death and injury include:

o Selecting the safest vehicle for the task that needs to be completed, in many cases this will not be a quad.

o Keeping children off quads of any size.

o Not carry passengers or loads.

o Wear a helmet.

Mr Lower said Australia had the unenviable record of ranking second behind road transport as Australia's most dangerous industry.

"This rise in cases throughout 2015 sounds a warning bell that there really is a need to fast-track improvements," he said.

National Farmers' Federation workforce productivity committee chair Charles Armstrong said research showed fitting a Crush Protection Device (CPD) to a quad bike was very valuable.

"We need manufacturers to accept that and to encourage retailers to have them on the shop floor," he said.

One particular CPD is a quadbar, which is a small unobtrusive, hairpin shaped hoop mounted on the quadbike behind the rider designed to counter some of the risks associated with rollovers

Mr Armstrong said children should not be riding quad bikes, but that it was something that would be hard to legislate.

"No-one under 16 years of age should be allowed on an adult sized quad bike," he said.

Mr Armstrong also recommended the use of helmets.

If those three protective measures were put in place, Mr Armstrong said the death and injury statistics would be much lower.

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