Quad bikes: tractor roll overs, all over again?

There’s a push for quad bikes roll over protection*.  Is this tractors, all over again, or something different?

The scenario looks similar.  Both agricultural machines.  Used by mainly small businesses.   Probably with long-term ownership/low turnover.  Used in a variety of terrain.  Sometimes they roll over.  Sometimes they trap people.  Is there something that makes it different?

Australia was decades behind Sweden on roll over protection on tractors. It worked in Sweden.  With high levels of roll over protection Sweden achieved very large reductions in accident rates**.  The delay in action on tractor safety in Australia proved to be a monumental failure of government.  It resulted in a devastating legacy of injury and death and a very difficult problem to sort out later with retrofits.

Perhaps quad bikes is the same scenario?  Alternatively, could an all in one solution be the wrong fit?  If so, let’s discover the way forward.    Or if the solution is proven, simple and straightforward like roll over protection for tractors, then we should get on with it.

Quad bike - from ABC *

farm0011

Tractor graph

* Image from the ABC “ACCC Warns of Quad Bike Safety” 1 April 2013 Online

** Reynolds, S.J. & Groves, W. 2000, ‘Effectiveness of Roll-Over Protective Structures in Reducing Farm Tractor Fatalities’, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, vol. 18, no. 4S, pp. 63-69.

Other links:
Safework Australia “Support for CPDs on Quadbikes”
Aghealth Australia “Quad Bikes”

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About John Culvenor

Hi, Thank you for taking a look at this blog. I work in engineering, ergonomics, creativity, design, training, etc. Often this is about helping solve legal puzzles through accident analysis. Sometimes it is about thinking up better designs for equipment, workplaces, and systems. This blog is about good design and bad design, accident analysis and how it can be done better, and how we can make a better, safer world by design!
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6 Responses to Quad bikes: tractor roll overs, all over again?

  1. Rodney Currey says:

    See findings as per Australian Safety and Compensation Council findings on farmers views on safety p.1 “injuries are a normal part of farming and farmers accept it”. it goes on “the application of common sense is all that’s required to avoid injury..” The hierarchy sand card at play.

    http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/107/BeyondCommonSense_Report_Barriers_AdoptionOfSafety_AgricultureIndustry_2006_ArchivePDF.pdf

  2. Thank you for the link Rodney. I’ve just had a look at the report. Yes, more or less it says farmers use the sand. However Safework Australia also conveniently forget a few things and use some sand themselves. Notably they comment on farmer attitudes to things like tractor use. This is a bit rich since it was 30 to 40 years of government neglect on standards that lead to the problem with tractors not farmer attitudes!

    • Rodney Currey says:

      Yes, I think its political as the coalition (national party) don’t want to upset the farmers by introducing laws etc as it’s seen as interfering, and labour don’t care as it will just further alienate the rural vote. Raising workers comp don’t matter as most farmers don’t have it anyway.

      Maybe the only way to introduce change is to find a way to convince farmers that by having safe practices it can maintain or even raise yields per acre. Like still being alive will help yields maybe!

      • If the solution is readily known though farmers would not have to do anything if the first step was to require that new machines had the “solution” (what ever it is). At least that would turn off the tap on the supply. Again providing this solution is known to work.

      • rodcurrey says:


        The trouble with ATV’s, they need bigger motors!

  3. Some good donuts with this ATV. I don’t think the average farmer can drive like this!

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