Farmers heeding safety messages

Wairarapa people have lodged nearly 170 injury claims relating to incidents on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the past three years, according to ACC records.

Fifty-five of those were for injuries last year, down from 66 in 2011. The figures included accidents on quad bikes, farms bikes, 4-wheeler and 3-wheeler vehicles.

Last October, Shane White, 10, was killed in a quad bike crash in South Wairarapa. A month later, a woman, 24, was left with ankle injuries after her quad bike flipped on a Pirinoa farm. And in December, Tinui farmer Ian Perry was flown to Wellington Hospital after he rolled his quad bike on a hill.

Last month, a Carterton farm worker was trapped beneath an overturned Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) with a badly broken leg before a workmate hauled him to safety at the Roselea dairy farm at East Taratahi.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment survey of 800 farm owners and managers nationwide found 16 per cent more farmers reported some or all riders were wearing helmets than in 2010.

Helmet sales had increased, doubling in the year to last June, the ministry said.

Ona de Rooy, ministry general manager health and safety operations, said the results were encouraging but there were still too many quad bike accidents on 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:

Dec 26: The death of Rowan Parker, 16, who was killed when he lost control of a quad bike in South Otago, drove over a cliff and fell 150m.

Jan 3: Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious head injuries after the quad bike she was riding on with four adults crashed into a Hawke's Bay ditch. Her father, Daniel McGregor, has been charged with drink-driving causing injury and reckless driving.

Jan 5: The death of farm worker Andrew Baxter, 45, who fell from his quad bike in Rakaia.

Jan 15: Nathan Cleverley, 40, found with abdominal and pelvic injuries after his quad bike fell on top of him on a Matamata farm. He lay injured for 17 hours before being rescued.

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

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

"That distinction is important 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.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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