Quad bike-related claims cost Govt $11.9m

By Shawn McAvinue

The ministry launched a quad bike safety campaign in 2010 to reduce injuries and deaths. Photo / File / Thinkstock
The ministry launched a quad bike safety campaign in 2010 to reduce injuries and deaths. Photo / File / Thinkstock

Quad bike-related claims cost the Government nearly $12 million last year and, despite extended safety campaigns, riders continue to die.

An Official Information Act request to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) revealed 3221 quad bike-related claims last year cost ACC $11.9 million.

Between 2003 and 2013 there were 63 "fatal claims", including deaths in Waitaki, Dunedin, Southland, Gore and Invercargill.

ACC spokesman Glenn Donovan said there could have been more deaths from quad bike-related accidents.

"It is possible someone may die in an [quad bike-related] accident but their family may not lodge an accidental death claim with ACC."

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said about half of quad bike-related injuries were work related and therefore covered by ACC's "work account".

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment health and safety operations general manager Ona de Rooy said quad bike injuries were paid from either the ACC "work account", if for instance a farmer was working when injured, or "earner/non-earner levies", if not work-related.

"So either way a farmer will be being levied for the costs of injury."

Ms de Rooy said on average 850 people were injured riding quad bikes on farms a year and five people died.

The ministry launched a quad bike safety campaign in 2010 to reduce injuries and deaths.

Since the campaign started, health and safety inspectors had visited more than 2000 farms and issued more than 700 warnings or improvement notices to farmers, mainly about the wearing of helmets when riding a quad bike.

Wearing a helmet was a legal requirement under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, Ms de Rooy said.

A survey revealed 16 per cent more farmers were wearing helmets than in 2010 and quad bike safety helmet sales had nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012, she said.

And ACC had reported that claims for occupational quad bike accidents had fallen 17 per cent since 2010, she said.

But workplace quad bike related fatalities and injuries had remained constant so the campaign would be extended beyond the intended 2013 end date.

The rural sector must take ownership of the problem, Ms de Rooy said.

"The ministry believes too much of the progress that has been made has occurred solely because the rural community has been told to make change, not because there is an increased understanding of the risk or a belief that these are the right things to do morally and legally."

Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman David Wilson said Ms de Rooy comment was "a little bit harsh" to the rural community.

"No one goes out to kill themselves on a bike."

However, health and safety on farm was "paramount" and it was a "good thing" the safety campaign would continue.

- Otago Daily Times

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