Incoming regulations will see all quad bike users legally required to wear appropriate head protection at all times and undergo operator safety skills training.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has told the Irish Farmers Journal that the new rules are intended to come into effect later in 2021, following a final review by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The objective of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 is to help prevent fatal and serious injury arising from quad use.

Quads accounted for 6% of all reported work-related fatal incidents involving vehicles in the 10-year period from 2010-2019.

Employers and people in control of workplaces will be required to ensure the quad driver has completed an appropriate all-terrain vehicle safety training course by a registered provider.

Current ATV training costs €250 for a one-day course, which covers the key skills necessary to ensure the stability and control of the unit.

Loss of control or overturning of the unit generally results in the operator being thrown at force from the quad, placing them at risk of a severe head injury. Suitable helmets cost between €50 and €100.

The HSA predicts the new requirements may result in a move towards side-by-side ATVs, which have two seats, a cab and seat belts, and do not require the wearing of helmets.

The HSA’s inspectorate currently carries out routine inspections in agriculture and associated sectors, and these are likely to include checks on the new quad requirements.

When the policy change was first proposed in 2019, the HSA said it would continue to expend scarce advisory resources, but warned that this approach had not resulted in any reduction in the number of accidents involving quads.

The HSA also warned that in the case that no action was taken, significant costs could accrue to the State in terms of dealing with the consequences of serious injury and death of operators.