Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Training urged to cut quad bike toll

A Northland farming leader says irresponsible people using quad bikes on farms are putting themselves and others at risk, as figures show there have been 641 quad bike injuries and three deaths in the region over the past three years.

There have been 641 injury claims made to ACC in Northland for quad-bike incidents and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the past three years.

Northland Federated Farmers president Matt Long has warned that those working on farms who have little regard for safety on quad bikes are putting themselves and others in danger.

While most had a responsible attitude to using farming bikes, some farmers and workers took unnecessary risks, he said.

The ACC figures showed that 190 claims occurred last year. This was down from 211 in 2011. The figures included accidents on two, three and four-wheeled farm bikes.

Mr Long said quad-bike safety measures should focus on driver training.

"My understanding is that very few of the agricultural major accidents or fatalities would have been affected by a helmet," he said.

"The emphasis needs to be more on safety training rather than necessarily everybody wearing a helmet."

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment survey of 800 farm owners and managers found 16 per cent more farmers reported some or all riders were now wearing helmets compared to 2010. Helmet sales had also increased, nearly doubling in the 12 months to June last year, the ministry said.

MBIE general manager health and safety operations Ona de Rooy 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.

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

Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell said while quad bikes were mostly used on farms, not all crashes were farm-related.

"That distinction is an important one because farm-related quad-bike injury and death remains thankfully rare."

About 35 per cent of ATV injury claims are classed as work-related each year, according to ACC. Despite this, on average,"at-work" claims make up nearly half of the total cost of ATV claims annually.

Last year, ATV accident claims cost taxpayers over $3 million, of which 46 per cent ($1.4 million) was dedicated to "at-work" claims.

A breakdown showed only 37 per cent of claims were classed as "at-work".

- Northern Advocate

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