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On average, five people are killed on New Zealand farms each year in work-related quad bike incidents. In addition, there are more than 100 severe injuries each year on New Zealand farms.
- Riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job.
- Choose the right vehicle for the job.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Don’t let kids ride adult quad bikes.
- Only carry a passenger if there is no reasonable alternative.
The purpose of this information sheet is to help reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities by providing practical guidance on how to manage various four – wheeled motorbike (quad bikes) risks. There are estimated to be over 80,000 quad bikes in use on and around farms throughout New Zealand. They might not look it, but quad bikes are powerful and complex pieces of machinery. The rider needs to shift and use their body weight to control the bike. This is called ‘active riding’.
Quad bike riding skills need to be learned through riding experience and training. Riders who are unfamiliar with the particular quad bike or farm terrain, and/or unskilled in the proper active riding techniques are at increased risk of injury.
The most common types of accident involve people falling off quads, rolling them, or hitting objects. WorkSafe New Zealand accepts the recommendations in this information sheet as current industry good practice. They will help you comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).
Accepted Good Practice
Only let people with the right training and experience ride a quad bike. Bike riders must have appropriate riding skills. To check a rider’s skills, talk about safe farm bike riding with them and get them to show their skills under direct supervision. Riders must know about the best routes to take, no-go zones and what jobs can be done by bike compared to other vehicles.
Quad bikes are vehicles designed for off-road use. They are not suited for travelling on public roads, mostly because they are light and offer little protection from other vehicles should you have a collision.
To be able to ride a quad bike on public roads, you must:
- register and license the quad bike
- hold a current New Zealand driver licence
- wear an approved safety helmet
- maintain a current warrant of fitness.
See the NZTA website (www.nzta.govt.nz)(external link) for further information and exemptions for quad bikes used exclusively on farm.
Under HSWA persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure the safety of workers while at work so far as is reasonably practicable. Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety. To manage the risks involved in riding quad bikes at work, helmets should be worn on or off-road to ensure the safety of the rider.
Health and safety legal requirements
The primary duties of a PCBU include:
- providing and maintaining a safe work environment, safe plant and structures and safe systems of work
- providing any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect everyone from the health and safety risks at work.
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions or inactions do not harm the health and safety of others
- co-operate with any reasonable health and safety policy or procedure of the PCBU notified to them and comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PBCU (eg using personal protective equipment).
Choosing the right vehicle for the job
Quad bikes are not designed to carry passengers. If you need to move other people around the farm, use a suitable vehicle such as a ute, side-by-side or utility vehicle.
You should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines when operating a quad bike. However, in exceptional circumstances if you need to operate a quad bike outside of the manufacturer's guidelines in relation to carrying passengers. Then you must carry out a risk assessment.
If after carrying out a risk assessment you do decide to carry passengers, you can reduce the risks by taking the following steps:
- Both you and the passenger should wear approved quad bike helmets.
- If you are carrying a passenger you should be an experienced and competent quad bike rider.
- You should tell the passenger how and where to sit, and to listen carefully to your instructions while the quad bike is moving.
- Make sure you don’t go faster than 20km/h.
- Avoid steep and uneven surfaces.
For more information about carrying passengers on quad bikes see the position statement Guidelines on the carriage of passengers on quad bikes available on the WorkSafe website
Table of risks
|Riding the bike||
|Working alone and in isolation||
|Children on quadbikes||
Table of risks
|Towing and attachments||
Farm quad bike pre-operation checklist
Note: refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular quad bike for the correct specifications (for example, tyre pressure, and the correct engine temperature for checking the oil).
Adapted from A handbook for workplaces: Quad bikes on farms 2009, from WorkSafe Victoria.