Farm bikes remain deadly

By Teuila Fuatai

Farm workers under pressure to complete tasks are more likely to crash on quad bikes, Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers warns.

Provincial president John Scrimgeour said mistakes, which could result in deadly accidents, often occurred when people were in a hurry.

Risky situations ranged from "people rushing to head-off an animal that's breaking away from a mob ... to being in a hurry to get home because they are going out," he said.

ACC figures showed nearly 210 injury claims in Western Bay of Plenty related to incidents on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the past three years.

Sixty-nine occurred last year, slightly more than 67 the previous year. The figures included accidents on quad bikes, farms bikes, four-wheeler and three-wheeler vehicles.

And last month, two quad bike accidents involving children in the Western Bay hit headlines.

A 15-year-old boy, who was not seriously injured, was taken to Tauranga Hospital on January 15 from Matakana Island after the quad bike he was on rolled over.

A week later, an 11-year-old girl was run over by a quad bike in Te Kaha. She was flown to Whakatane Hospital with back injuries.

Mr Scrimgeour said safe practise around quad bikes on farms had improved during the past two years. But he warned recreational users not to be complacent when using the vehicles.

"Several of the worst ones [quad bike accidents], while they are in rural areas and sometimes have even been on farms, they're not actually farm accidents," he said.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) survey of 800 farm owners and managers found 16 per cent more farmers reported some or all riders were wearing helmets compared to 2010.

Helmet sales had also increased, nearly doubling in the 12 months to June 2012, the ministry said.

Ona de Rooy, MBIE General Manager Health and Safety Operations, said the results were encouraging but there were still too many quad bike accidents on New Zealand farms.

A breakdown of ACC figures showed ATV work-related injury claims had barely reduced in the past five years. Last year, 761 work-related claims were accepted nationally, compared to 766 in 2008.

Recent incidents include:

  • December 26, 2012: The death of Rowan Cai Parker, 16, who was killed when he lost control of a quad bike in South Otago and drove over a cliff - falling 150 metres.

  • December 27, 2012: Wairarapa man Ian Perry suffered broken ribs after the quad bike he was riding rolled on a muddy hill.

  • January 3: Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious head injuries after the quad bike she was riding on with four adults crashed down a Hawkes Bay ditch. Her father, Daniel McGregor, has been charged in relation to the incident. Charges include driving with an excess breath-alcohol level causing injury and reckless driving.

  • January 5: The death of farm worker Andrew Baxter, 45, who fell from his quad bike in Rakaia and suffered fatal injuries.

  • January 15: Nathan Cleverley, 40, was found with serious abdominal and pelvic injuries after his quad bike fell on top of him at a Matamata farm. He lay injured for 17 hours, unable to walk after he came off his quad bike, before being rescued.

  • In total, 29 people have died in work-related quad bike crashes between 2006 and 2012, according to the MBIE.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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