Dan Brier knows from personal experience the value of roll bar protection on a quad bike. A crush protection device saved him from serious injury – perhaps even saved his life.
Dan, who is now Beef + Lamb NZ’s GM for Farming Excellence, was on the family farm in the King Country about 10 years ago.
“It had been a long day. I was putting sheep away after shearing, evening was falling, I was tired, it was raining. I took the bike along a track that needed maintenance. So lots of things were lining up to go wrong,” he recalls.
The quad started to roll and as he felt it going, Dan leaned the other way. But his toes got caught up.
“In that split second it was all sort of slow motion stuff. The bike was coming over on top of me and I was thinking this is gonna break my legs because of the way I’d fallen across the track.
“I remember thinking ‘no-one knows where I am. It’s dark and my wife is home with four little kids so she’s not really in a position to come out looking for me’. All those things rushed through my mind.”
Only he wasn’t crushed.
The farm had three quad bikes, including one that when it was purchased already had a roll bar installed. It just so happened that was the one Dan was riding that evening.
Hardly surprising that Dan has become a convert to crush protection devices – in fact any sort of engineering for safety.
“Let’s face it, we’re humans and we all make bad mistakes. We’ll drive too fast, we soldier on when we’re tired, we get careless when pressures build up. Whenever we can come up with ways to help people be safer, or more productive or whatever, without a human having to make a conscious decision about it, then I’m all for it,” he says.
Another example is a tractor he uses on farm that if some tries to get off it while the PTO (power take-off shaft) is still running, it cuts the engine off. And we’re now in cars with anti-lock braking, airbags and all the rest.
“So there’s all these sorts of devices which mean that I can’t make a mistake, even if a do make a mistake. They keep us safer, despite ourselves, if we invest in them.
“As I see it, there are lots of gains to be had, and lots of opportunities, for us to help keep our farms safer.”
Dan knows all the reasons why farmers might resist installing a CPD on their quad. As well as the cost, it might preclude being able to use certain spray units and other accessories. Without a deck on the back for the quad for the dog team, the farmer might have to tow a trailer, which comes with its own safety issues.
But in his mind, such trade-offs and inconveniences pale in comparison to the potential for permanent disability or death if a quad without a CPD rolls.
“We all think that catastrophic event won’t happen to us. But unfortunately, as around half a dozen people a year on farm find out each year, it does.”
Quad bike rollovers continue to cause serious injuries and fatalities on our farms. These fatalities are often mums, dads, grandparents and loved ones who had every intention of coming home for dinner that day.
Most of these rollovers are freak accidents on all gradients of land, up and down the country.
The non-profit health, safety and wellbeing group Safer Farms has just launched a nationwide campaign to encourage more farmers and agricultural businesses to invest in crush protection devices (CPDs), with a $180 (+GST) cash back offer on three leading brands.
Ongoing research has assessed and simulated the performance of CPDs and the clear evidence is that they create a gap between the weight of the bike and the ground when upside down. This gap could allow the operator to crawl out from under the bike, or if there are moderate injuries, it could allow the operator to reach their phone or EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) to trigger help.
The official position of Federated Farmers is that CPDs on quad bikes/ATVs are “strongly recommended,” Feds Vice-President and health and safety spokesperson Karen Williams says.
“ATVs are the only vehicle that don’t offer this gap between rider and machine when there’s a rollover.
“Quads are incredibly handy and versatile but that crush danger is part of the reason why side by sides, utes and so on are replacing them on farm as they are perceived as safer,” Karen says.
If an ATV is still the preference, then by adding the CPD, logic suggests you are increasing the chances of survival by creating a space to avoid the full impact if the bike rolls.
Back in 2014, Worksafe’s position was that installing crush protection devices on quads/ATVs was an issue of personal choice. But quad bike injuries and fatalities have continued – on average five deaths a year in work-related incidents. Since 2006 there have been 645 recorded quad bike ‘serious harm’ incidents in workplaces and 75 fatalities – 16 in the Waikato alone.
With those appalling statistics, and as more research has come in, Worksafe also now strongly recommends installing a CPD.
If a worker is injured on your farm and you do not have a CPD, it is very likely you will have been deemed to not have provided adequate protection for your workers. Not only is there the toll on your valued staff member and their family, it triggers Health & Safety concerns around the employer being liable for any accidents.
The Safer Farms campaign message is that with the cost of CPDs (ex GST) starting at $595, they’re a very cost-effective protection that could save a life.
- The campaign cash back is available through ACC for $180+GST on Quadbar, Quadbar Flexi, and ATV Lifeguard crush protection devices. Eligibility criteria applies – agricultural businesses with up to 99 employees can redeem cash back on up to two selected crush protection devices. Full details available at www.acc.govt.nz