Training and helmet protection will become a mandatory requirement to drive a quad from 2023, according to legislation signed by Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English.

The measures will introduce an obligation on the users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to undergo mandatory training and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when using such vehicles for work purposes.

The legislation is hoped to reduce the number of serious all-terrain vehicle injuries and fatalities and will come into force on 20 November 2023.

The inclusion of a requirement for mandatory training and helmet use was a recommendation of the Farm Safety Taskforce.

Safety concerns

Minister English highlighted: “In recent years, there has been a number of accidents in farming and other areas of work involving the use of ATVs.

"The number and severity of these incidents has given rise to serious safety concerns, particularly across the farming community," the minister said.

"Over a 10-year period (2009-2018), tractors, ATVs and other vehicles represented 30% of workplace fatalities in the agriculture sector, with ATV fatalities showing a significant increase in recent years."

Minister English explained how "investigations into the causes of these accidents by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have shown that many cases are caused by the lack of training and head protection."

He said the statutory instrument signed on Tuesday will provide specific legal requirements, which he hopes will reduce the number and severity of such farm quad accidents.

Lead in period

With the new measures not coming into place until 20 November 2023, the two-year lead-in period is envisaged to allow quad users, suppliers and retailers enough time to ensure that all of the necessary measures will be in place for compliance.

Minister of State with responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon, said he looks forward to working closely with Minister English over the next while to help farmers who use ATVs prepare for the new requirements, making their farms safer places in doing so.

"ATVs are important tools on many farms. However, they can be dangerous and the 11 fatalities [2009-2018] recorded by the HSA are a stark reminder of that fact," he said.

"This legislation is another important step to drive down the unacceptably high number of fatalities on Irish farms."