Quad death toll must be cut says Farmsafe Australia

Safer Farms report highlights the quad bike death toll in the bush

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USING EVERY TOOL AVAILABLE: Farmsafe Australia chairman Charles Armstrong says every tool available including operator protection devices, helmets and professional training must be used to reduce farm quad bike fatalities.

USING EVERY TOOL AVAILABLE: Farmsafe Australia chairman Charles Armstrong says every tool available including operator protection devices, helmets and professional training must be used to reduce farm quad bike fatalities.

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Farmsafe Australia has released its first Safer Farms annual report.

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Quad bike deaths and injuries feature strongly in Farmsafe Australia's first Safer Farms report released this week.

The report includes a 10-year tally of total farm deaths and injuries each year along with the leading cause of fatalities.

In all but four years quad bikes are listed as the most common agent of death on farm. Quads were also the leading cause of injury in every year since 2010.

Almost 90 per cent of the total 625 fatalities were males with more than half over 50 years of age.

Sadly, 15pc of deaths in the past decade were children under 15.

During the first six months of 2020 there have been 33 fatalities and 71 injuries on farms, according to the report.

Nine of the deaths have involved quads including four children under 15.

Despite the federal and state governments investing in education and awareness campaigns as well as rebate schemes for helmets and training, quad bike injuries and fatalities were still capturing all the headlines, the report said.

Farmsafe Australia chairman, Charles Armstrong, Nyngan, NSW.

Farmsafe Australia chairman, Charles Armstrong, Nyngan, NSW.

"With the campaigns seemingly not having much effect on behaviour change, safety best practice stipulates that engineering controls are the most effective risk minimisation strategy where a risk cannot be eliminated, substituted or isolated," it said.

"OPDs and the minimum stability requirements are engineered controls and the best chance that we have at addressing the inherent risks attributed to the design of quad bikes.

"And yet, attempts to implement the recent ACCC standard for quad bike safety has been met with backlash from user groups who see it as an abuse of regulatory powers and an overreach of the government into private affairs.

"The criticism is wide ranging and argues everything from incorrect figures to lack of safety awareness raising campaigns. Their voices are loud and are gaining traction on social media.

"The voices that we won't be hearing from in this debate sadly, are those who have the most valuable opinions; those whose lives have been cut short."

A new-look Farmsafe Australia has been unveiled to coincide with the year's Farm Safety Week.

The organisation has been refreshed with a three-year $1.9 million federal grant. The restructure will include a new website as the go-to place for farm safety information.

"The National Farm Safety Education Fund grant has allowed Farmsafe Australia to employ an executive officer (Stevi Howdle) who will manage the revitalisation project but will also be responsible for the day to day running of the organisation," Farmsafe Australia chairman, Charles Armstrong, said.

Farmsafe will also be running its first ever virtual conference in November.

"Although the decision to switch to the virtual platform was made in response to the current COVID-19 restrictions, it will mean that our conference is more accessible to a wider audience allowing our farmers to stay on farm while still having access to first class speakers, webinars, forums and virtual exhibitors," Mr Armstrong said.

"Farmsafe Australia is ready to resume its spot as the national voice of farm safety and work alongside state bodies, researchers, universities, medical experts and industry professionals to co-ordinate and provide safety messaging that is accurate and consistent for Australia's smallest hobby acreage through to our largest corporate farms."

The story Quad death toll must be cut says Farmsafe Australia first appeared on Farm Online.

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