If operated unsafely, they can quickly create a risk of death or severe injury. In the agricultural and forestry industries, where quad bikes are routinely used, safety has emerged as a paramount concern.

Recent years have seen an alarming increase in fatal and serious accidents involving quads and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

In response, new regulations aimed at reducing the frequency of quad bike accidents are set to be enforced.

As of 20 November 2023, these new legal requirements will take effect under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations.

So, what does this mean for farmers and contractors?

The new regulations mandate that operators of quad bikes in any workplace must have successfully completed a quad bike training course provided by a registered training provider to a QQI standard or equivalent.

Additionally, these operators must wear appropriate head protection while using a quad or ATV.

The fundamental safety factors surrounding quad bikes are training, experience, the use of personal protective equipment, diligent maintenance and a good understanding of the terrain.

The minimum age for operating farm-type quad bikes is at least 16 years, usually indicated on the quad itself.

The primary causes of fatalities and serious injuries related to quad bikes are:

  • Being thrown off during vehicle overturns or loss of control.
  • Collisions with structures, trees, poles, other vehicles and more.
  • Being trapped, asphyxiated or drowned under an overturned machine.
  • Pedestrians getting struck or run over by a quad bike.
  • The underlying reasons behind these accidents typically involve one or more of the following factors:

  • Insufficient formal training or experience.
  • Limited physical mobility.
  • Excessive speed, particularly when making sharp turns.
  • Carrying passengers or unbalanced loads.
  • Tipping on banks, ditches, rocks, ruts or bumps.
  • Steep slopes coupled with other variables such as ground or load conditions.
  • Towing excessive loads with un-braked equipment.
  • Neglecting proper quad maintenance.
  • Education is key

    All operators of quad bikes must receive training in safe operating practices and comprehensive information on how to operate a quad bike securely. This training should also cover the use of any towed equipment or attachments if applicable.

    Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Under these new legal requirements, operators will be required to wear an approved helmet at all times. Helmets play a critical role in reducing the number and severity of head injuries.

    To ensure that you are correctly protected, reference the manufacturer's recommendations for the ideal helmet, ensuring it fits snugly and securely.

    Helmets with face shields or goggles not only protect the eyes, but also enhance visibility. Additionally, other PPE such as gloves and safety footwear should be worn.

    No passengers, please!

    Carrying passengers on a quad bike is strictly prohibited. The extended seat is designed for active riding, allowing operators to shift their body weight for various slope conditions. It is not intended for carrying additional passengers.

    Trailed equipment and loads

    Overloading a quad bike can disrupt the distribution of weight and compromise braking capabilities. Ensure that all riders are aware of the manufacturer's recommended towing capacity and drawbar loading limits and always adhere to these guidelines.

    Keep in mind that controlling the quad using body movements becomes considerably more challenging when carrying a load or towing a trailer.

    When selecting trailed equipment, look for features such as over-run brakes, a swivel hitch drawbar, bead lock rims on wheels, a low centre of gravity, a wide wheel track, a long drawbar and attachment points for securing loads.

    Quad maintenance

    Regular maintenance and checks of quad bikes are vital for ensuring safe operation. Routine inspection of tire pressures and adherence to the manufacturer's servicing guidelines are crucial. A poorly maintained quad bike can easily lead to an accident.

    Don’t take chances and always think safety first!

    For more information visit Quad Bike Safety Video - Farm Insurance | FBD Insurance.