Farmers reminded of the importance of all terrain vehicle safety on farms

The Department of Labour is urging farmers to ensure that employees required to use All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in their work are given proper safety equipment – including helmets.

'ATVs are one of the main causes of workplace fatalities in New Zealand,' says Department of Labour Chief Adviser for Health and Safety, Dr Geraint Emrys. 'And they are also one of most widely used vehicles on farms, so it is imperative those who use them have the right training and equipment.'

Dr Emrys was speaking after the Palmerston North District Court today fined farmer Trevor Mark Schroder $25,000 and ordered him to pay reparation of $20,000 to his employee John Haar.

Mr Schroder had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Mr Haar while at work.

The charge followed an ATV accident on 26 November 2008 that left Mr Haar with serious head injuries.

Dr Emrys says Mr Haar was riding an ATV supplied by Mr Schroder when he apparently drove into a wire used to direct cows into specific areas of the farm. Mr Haar had not been wearing a helmet and the severity of his injuries increased as a consequence. Nor had he been told that the wire he rode into had been put across the race.

'Mr Haar needed an operation to remove bone fragments from his skull. He has had ongoing treatment for his head injuries. He has been unable to work since the accident.'

The Agricultural Guidelines – Safe Use of ATVs on New Zealand Farms – advise that the wearing of helmets by quad bike riders is considered best practice.

Dr Emrys says the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires employers to take all practicable steps to keep employees safe at work. That includes providing helmets for all employees required to ride ATVs – and insisting that they are worn.

'That also means employers have a duty to identify all farm hazards and ensure employees are told of them.'

'This accident is a wake-up call to everyone involved with ATVs. The “she'll be right” attitude just doesn't cut it. ATVs need to be treated with care and respect. The consequences of not doing so can be significant.'

Reproduced from a Department of Labour media release, 15 September 2009.

Published in consumer and occupational safety.