A quad bike accident almost cost former Moyne Shire mayor Bruce Couch his life and now he wants a ban on those sold without rollbars.
Mr Couch suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was thrown from his quad bike at Nirranda South on December 17 last year, and after almost five months in hospital and rehabilitation centres has finally returned home.
But he knows he is one of the lucky ones. Since 2011, 116 people nationally have died in quad-bike-related accidents, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which is currently investigating their safety.
According to Worksafe Victoria, 12 people have died as a result of workplace incidents involving quad bikes on Victorian farms since 2011, including five in the south-west.
Quad bike accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury on Australian farms and each year about 20,000 are sold across the country.
“They are the most dangerous thing on the farm for any use because there’s no roll bars on them,” Mr Couch said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to be sold without some type of roll frame on them.
“There’s no safety at all in those four-wheel motorbikes. They just should be banned.
“They register them and they get out on the road and there’s no protection on them whatsoever. It’s stupid.”
Of those killed on quad bikes, about half were workers, almost half were the result of a rollover, 83 per cent were male and were aged between four and 94.
Each day about six people present at an Emergency Department with quad bikes-related injuries.
Mr Couch said he bought his quad bike about 20 years ago because it was more suitable than a two-wheeler to use with the farm irrigation system.
The former sprintcar driver said that even some of the newer quad bikes with roll bars did not provide enough protection.
An ACCC taskforce investigating whether a mandatory safety standard should be introduced under the Australian Consumer Law is expected to make a recommendation to the Federal government by the end of the year. Under changes being considered is prohibiting unsafe design features, and a national safety rating system.
In March, WorkSafe Victoria began inspecting workplaces which use quad bikes to ensure they are complying with new regulations which require rollbars to be fitted if there is a risk of roll over on the property.
Farmers have been urged to take advantage of a $6 million quad bike rebate scheme, managed by the Victorian Farmers Federation, which provides $600 to fit roll bars to quad bikes or $1200 to upgrade.
Since 2016, the quad bike rebate scheme has paid out almost $2.8 million to either fit suitable rollover protection devices on 1820 quad bikes or to help pay for 1235 more appropriate vehicles.
WokSafe acting Director of Health and Safety Paul Fowler said that in Victoria, employers who use quad bikes must take reasonably practicable steps to control the risk of death or injury through roll over.
“WorkSafe recognises the fitting of approved operator protection devices as an effective method for controlling this risk. Employers should also ensure operators wear appropriate helmets,” he said.