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New safety laws for quad bikes


10 April 2024

New laws to protect the health and safety of workers while operating or being a passenger on a quad bike in a workplace have commenced in Queensland.

The Work Health and Safety (Quad Bikes) Amendment Regulation 2024 sees the introduction of age restrictions, passenger restrictions and mandates helmets for quad bikes used in workplaces.

Quad bikes are synonymous with the Queensland way of life for many farmers and primary producers. Their adaptability, ease of use, and low running costs make them an asset for many workplaces, but they also pose significant risks if they’re not used correctly.

Injuries from quad bikes can be serious with research demonstrating one-in-five incidents resulted in a head injury – in many of these cases, the person wasn’t wearing a helmet.

“The state’s work health and safety laws are amongst the best in the world, and this is another addition to our safety arsenal,” Office of Industrial Relations Deputy Director General Peter McKay said.

“These changes mean safer work for anyone using a quad bike. It brings greater clarity to who can use quad bikes and how to use them to keep Queenslanders safe.

“A wide range of stakeholders contributed valuable feedback, including industry representatives, farmers, employers, safety search and rescue organisations, as well as legal, medical, and health and safety experts. Thanks to all who contributed to this work.”

Data from Safe Work Australia shows that, between 2011 and 2023, 193 lives were lost in quad bike accidents in Australia. The highest proportion of these, some 55 fatalities (nearly 30 per cent), occurred in Queensland, and at least 22 of those Queensland fatalities were work-related.

A Queensland coronial inquest examined nine deaths caused by quad bikes between 2012-2014. The recommendations were wide-ranging and included mandating the use of helmets, no children on adult quad bikes, and restrictions on passengers for quad bikes (other than those specifically designed to carry a passenger).

Following the coronial inquest, the Office of Industrial Relations released a discussion paper for public consultation. The feedback received demonstrated clear and actionable feedback for the Government to adopt for improved safety outcomes.

The amendments incorporate the public feedback. They are specific to quad bikes used for work, and relate to three areas: age restriction, passenger restriction, and helmet use.

The new legislation mandates that adult-sized quad bikes in workplaces must only be used by someone 16 years or above (or in accordance with age advice by the manufacturer). This means that children are not allowed on adult-sized quad bikes and can only ride on age-appropriate quad bikes in workplaces.

Passenger restrictions will mean a quad bike operator cannot carry a passenger unless the bike is designed to, and the passenger must meet manufacturer age specifications, or be 16 or older.

All riders of quad bikes must wear a fitted and fastened helmet.

The legislation affects quad bike use in a workplace setting and is not relevant to recreational use ( a private residential setting for leisure).

Changes to this legislation do not impact side-by-side vehicles (SSVs). This reflects the feedback received through consultation, that quad bikes were identified as having a significantly higher risk profile than SSVs.

Existing legislation administered by Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation will continue to apply to quad bikes being used on roads or road-related areas; state forests or timber reserves; protected areas (other than nature refuges or special wildlife reserves) and recreation areas.

Explainer/fast fact and or further information:

*Note, the private use of quad bikes is different from workplace use. These changes are only relevant to workplace use. The use of SSVs is not impacted.

Helmets: Feedback from consultation indicated a preference not to prescribe helmet types, given the varied nature of quad bike use across a number of industries and regions.

The new legislation supports this feedback by clarifying that quad bike riders need ‘approved motorbike helmets’ (as defined under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009) only if quad bikes are used in places where separate existing legislation already requires approved motorbike helmets. These areas extend to roads or road-related areas; state forests or timber reserves; protected areas (other than nature refuges or special wildlife reserves) and recreation areas and are administered by Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Department of Environment, Science, and Innovation. Otherwise, riders can choose the most appropriate helmet based on the context in which their quad bike is used (e.g. some helmets are more appropriate for hot climates).

SSV safety: Obligations related to SSV use in workplaces are covered under the existing WHS Regulation (provisions for Powered Mobile Plant, s214 and s215).

The Government will continue promoting the safe use of SSV by providing practical guidance in the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 - currently under review. It will also continue to monitor and evaluate incident data to inform future policy decisions on SSV safety.

Read more about the new Work Health and Safety (Quad Bikes) Amendment Regulation 2024.

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