Farmers urged to get quad bike training

Two deaths so far this year as inspector calls quads the second-most dangerous machine on farms

Farmers have been urged to get training to use quad bikes after two deaths from accidents with the all-terrain vehicles in Ireland so far this year.

A senior inspector at the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) described the vehicles as the most dangerous machines on farms, second only to tractors, and called for the wearing of helmets to be made mandatory.

There have been 10 fatalities involving the vehicles over the past decade but four of those deaths have occurred in the last 18 months, according to HSA figures.

Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the HSA, has urged quad bike drivers to get training and wear a helmet for protection on the vehicles, which are used mainly on farms.

“Poor practice has built up around them and with two deaths this year it is certainly something that needs attention. There should be some system brought in to make sure the training is compulsory,” he said.

“Helmets should be made mandatory. A lot of people say the typical motorbike helmet is impractical but there are specific helmets more suitable for quads.”

The HSA says most accidents are caused by excessive speed, overturning on sleep slopes and rough terrain, carrying passengers, and the driver lacking experience or training.

Although there are no figures available relating to injuries from quad bikes in Ireland, Mr Griffin said the injuries from riding the vehicle, generally without a helmet, can be very serious.

“The worst type of injury is generally from the quad overturning and landing on top of the driver and it is a crush injury to the chest or head. It is more often than not fatal.

“The most common injury is a head injury when the bike impacts the head and there is no helmet or if the quad drives into a pillar or a pole.

“There are no injury statistics. I would say they are one of the most dangerous machines on a farm, probably after the tractor. There is no protection at all,” said Mr Griffin.

“It is a trend worldwide in places like Australia and New Zealand.”

Young holidaymaker Ciara Twomey was injured in a quad bike accident during a trip to Thailand.

The nursing student from Bantry, Co Cork, who is recovering back in Ireland, had to have eye surgery after her glasses smashed inside her helmet while quad-biking earlier in the month.

Mr Griffin said training is necessary as there is a special method of riding quads, especially over rough terrain where they are more likely to overturn and cause injury or death.

“It’s called active riding where you move your body to make sure your weight is moved to keep stability on the vehicle,” he explained.

An Australian study published this summer revealed that riders aged 70 years or older had double the risk of injury compared with young adult riders.

“Unfortunately, a lot of elderly people are using quads and they don’t have the flexibility and mobility to do active riding,” said Mr Griffin.

“I would say if elderly people are going to use quads they should make sure they travel very slowly and stay off steep ground.”

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