Farmers urged to prepare for new quad safety regulations

Mandatory training and helmets will soon become a legal requirement for quad bike users.
Farmers urged to prepare for new quad safety regulations

Over the last 10 years, there have been 11 fatalities in agriculture involving quad bikes.

Farmers are being urged to prepare for the new quad bike safety regulations that will come into effect soon.

The Health and Safety Authority in the last week has been focusing on these safety regulations, which include the introduction of compulsory helmet wearing and training for operators. 

At this year's National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, the authority had a demonstration area showcasing the safe use of quad bikes, offering advice and guidance on the new regulations and on how to become compliant in advance of the November 2023 deadline. 

'Every death is one too many'

Over the last 10 years (2012 to 2021), there have been 11 fatalities in agriculture involving quad bikes.

The HSA has also reported one further quad bike-related fatality to date this year. 

This is out of the 10 reported work-related fatalities to date on Irish farms in 2022.

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English said this week that while there have been "some improvements in recent fatality figures", farming continues to be the most dangerous occupation in Ireland.

"Every death is one too many and is devastating for the families, friends, and communities left behind," Mr English said. 

"I would urge everyone working on farms to engage with the HSA’s guidance and look to the supports they have available to work safer on farms, especially when it comes to operating machinery."

HSA chief executive Sharon McGuinness said that the focus on quad bike regulations is "timely, as we look to just a 12-month period where farmers will need to ensure they are trained quad bike users and wear an appropriate helmet when operating these vehicles".

"We know these are important safety measures, which will be in place in the coming year and with the guidance and advice available, farmers have time to be ready to meet these changes."

Alongside the quad bike safety messaging, the authority has launched a new guide on the safe use of chainsaws, which will be of particular interest to farmers, professional chainsaw contractors, and forestry workers.

Last year, the HSA reported one fatality relating to chainsaw use and have reports of 39 serious incidents/injury involving chainsaws over the past 10 years across all sectors. 

However, this figure is likely to be higher due to low reporting of injuries, the HSA said.

"It’s vital that if you are using hazardous machinery like this that you are trained to do so - otherwise you shouldn’t be using it," Mr English added.

"It’s best to always seek advice from trained professionals when using chainsaws, whether that’s on your farm, your land, or in any workplace.”

Speaking on behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (FSPAC) to the HSA, chairman Ciaran Roche said that when it comes to farm safety, "it’s only when we work in collaboration that real change can happen". 

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