Agricultural workers in Dorset should have proper training and wear a helmet before using quad bikes on farms and roads or risk being prosecuted, warns rural insurance firm Cornish Mutual.
The insurer, which has Members across the county, is highlighting the issue as part of its ‘FarmSafe’ campaign in a bid to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries from operating all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
There is a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate training in the safe use of ATVs and it is now mandatory to wear appropriate safety helmets, with chinstraps and eye protection, when riding a quad bike.
Cornish Mutual is also reminding farmers that it is illegal for 16-year olds with a valid tractor licence to drive either an ATV or a handler on the public highway until they reach the age of 17 and have a full licence. To drive a quad bike on a public road in the UK requires a B1 licence, as well as tax, insurance and registration.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), on average, two people die and more than a thousand serious injuries happen as a result of quad bike accidents every year.
Cornish Mutual has handled a number of claims around ATVs in recent years and there have been some high-profile deaths and accidents in the UK involving quad bikes, young children and farm workers.
Major causes include a lack of proper training, inexperience, inadequate protective clothing, excessive speed, carrying passengers, the towing of excessive loads and unsafe or unbalanced loads.
Philip Wilson, business development manager for Cornish Mutual says, “Safety is a really big issue with quad bikes and they are potentially lethal if they are not driven in the right way. They offer very little protection, so wearing a helmet is really important – helmets can prevent deaths or serious injury and are quite literally life-savers. Most accidents are the result of the vehicle actually overturning, landing on top of and crushing the driver. This can happen so quickly and easily if people are not careful.”
He adds, “It’s all about education, maintenance and taking simple precautions – ATVs have very different handling techniques and characteristics to other types of vehicles, so proper training in how they are operated is vital to ensure safety at all times.
“Passengers should only be carried on ATVs that are designed to carry passengers, and only when it is safe to do so. For many work activities, it would be inappropriate to carry a passenger, even when the machine is designed to carry one, because the passenger affects the performance of the machine, the rider’s ability to control the machine (particularly on slopes) and the rider’s ability to work.”
Cornish Mutual has now issued some guidelines for operating ATVs which include always wearing head protection, checking for the CE mark, avoid carrying passengers unless the machine is designed for this and complete pre-ride checks including tyre pressure, brakes and throttle. The firm also says manufacturer guidelines for weight, towing capacity and drawbar loading limits must always be observed.
For more information about Cornish Mutual’s ‘FarmSafe’ campaign, visit www.cornishmutual.co.uk/farmsafe