Rebate calls for ROPS
THE Victorian Farmers Federation is calling on the State Government to support a rebate on fitting roll-over protection devices (ROPS) to quad bikes.
“If WorkSafe is going to move towards ‘effectively’ mandating ROPS on quad bikes, then we need a rebate on the $700 cost, especially when we’ve got many farmers running several quad bikes,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said.
The VFF’s call for a rebate follows Worksafe Victoria’s announcement it deemed ROPS devices “an appropriate means of reducing risks when quad bikes are used in the workplace”.
WorkSafe has told the VFF it’s developing a risk assessment tool farmers, as employers, will need to use in determining if a ROPS needs to be fitted to a quad bike or other action needs to be taken.
“If there’s a risk of rollover, then Worksafe is saying farmers will need to reduce the risk by choosing a safer vehicle or fitting a ROPS,” Mr Tuohey said.
“It’s basically coming down to if you think the quad can roll over then you’ll have to fit a ROPS or buy another vehicle, like a two-seater.”
Mr Tuohey said WorkSafe would not be rolling out the new assessment tool overnight or racing out to prosecute people.
“We’ll be negotiating with WorkSafe on how they develop this new assessment tool, what they deem to be an ‘appropriate’ ROPS and encouraging the State Government to provide a rebate for farmers to fit ROPS,” he said.
The VFF’s current policy is to support the voluntary fitting of ROPS on quad bikes.
“However if the government and WorkSafe want to ‘effectively’ mandate ROPS then it needs to work with the VFF and others on developing a rebate to cover the $700 cost of fitting these devices,” Mr Tuohey said.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said the safety of employees must always come first.
“For farmers, their employees are often their loved ones, so safety must always be the number one priority,” she said.
From 2001 to 2015 there have been 42 fatalities in Victoria involving ATVs, with 221 deaths recorded nationally. Of the Victorian deaths, 33 occurred on farms and 21 involved roll-overs.
“This is simply unacceptable,” Ms Pulford said.
WorkSafe will now begin properly explaining the new rules to farmers and other employers over the next few months through a coordinated communications plan.
“I understand the Victorian Farmers Federation is calling for the government to provide rebates to farmers to install protection devices,” Ms Pulford said.
“We need to make sure before any implementation occurs it is balanced with the situation applying to employers in any other industry.
“Safety must of course come first, but with these added safety measures and associated costs, we need to ensure farmers and communities have their say and are consulted.”
The Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) welcomed the ROPS move.
PIHSP advisory chair Gordon Gregory said quad bikes were the leading cause of on-farm fatalities, accounting for 15 on-farm deaths in 2015.
“The industry cannot continue to do nothing about this,” he said.
“WorkSafe Victoria is to be congratulated on starting the ball rolling on this highly important area of on-farm safety and we would hope the rest of the states also take action to address the risks to riders from quad bikes.”
Mr Gregory offered these additional tips on the safe operation of quad bikes:
• always wear a helmet;
• keep children younger than 16 off quad bikes;
• make sensible choices about terrain and environmental conditions;
• make sensible choices based on rider’s ability and your machine; and
• farmers are urged to attend training courses.
The partnership aims to improve the health and safety of workers and their families in farming industries across Australia.
It is funded by the Cotton, Grains and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporations, as well as the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and Meat and Livestock Australia.
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