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ATV Guidelines Launch, Wellington - Jim Sutton

Hon Jim Sutton
Speech Notes

11 November 2002

ATV Guidelines Launch, Wellington

Ladies and Gentlemen: It is with pleasure that that I am here today with my Ministerial colleagues to launch the guidelines for the safe use of all terrain vehicles on New Zealand farms.

Sometimes the farming community gives the impression that the high ACC levies they face are the result of nothing more than the left-wing proclivities of Government. Involvement in the development of these ATV guidelines is welcome evidence that behind that unrelenting complaint, there is a recognition that the true problem is that farms are dangerous places where people, including children, often suffer crippling injuries; and that collectively we must and can do something about it.

The development of these guidelines has been quite an undertaking as it has required the co-operation of a wide range of groups that make up what has been known as the "Agriculture Industry Focus Group". There are also three Government agencies: ACC, OSH and MAF; who worked with the group to compete these guidelines.

The Agriculture Industry focus group is to be commended for publishing these guidelines. The group has successfully involved people concerned with training, employment, and wider industry governance as well as the three Government agencies, so it certainly speaks for the farming, horticulture and farm forestry sectors.

The representation of the focus group is important, as the amended Health and Safety in Employment Act has recently been considered by a select committee and will shortly become law. This Act is going to put more emphasis on industry sectors taking greater responsibility, for identifying "Best Practices" and describing what an employer needs to do to demonstrate compliance with the Health and Safety Act.

Guidelines such as the ATV guidelines that we are launching today will be vital in meeting this need for greater industry input.

I'm told the focus group has agreed in principal to become the Agriculture Health and Safety Council, and this council will lead further initiatives aimed at improving the health and safety of all people involved in agriculture. As one of the first "Industry Health and Safety" councils, they may take their role a step further. I am told OSH has asked this group to provide leadership.

This leadership will not only ensure that Government's role will be practical and targeted but it will have the additional impact of allowing industry to ensure that compliance costs are kept to a manageable level.

Ladies and Gentlemen: it is estimated that there are 70,000 ATVs in use on New Zealand farms.

While they are an essential piece of equipment for farmers, they are also the second most common cause of work related fatalities that occur on farm; the first being road accidents. This singles out the need to have comprehensive guidelines that describe sensible and safe practices.

ATVs used on farms are big heavy vehicles that can easily injure and pin a person down. I'm pleased to see that in the guideline there is an emphasis on competency and training.

I hope these guidelines help create a culture that considers ATVs as a dangerous machine that require young people particularly to develop specific skills, and places some onus on those in charge of ATVs to check out whether a rider has the size and skill to handle them. Then I'm sure there will be fewer accidents.

Age restrictions have been considered carefully by the focus group.

Many farm tasks can be safely achieved by well-trained young people with the use of an ATV. The extra precautions for young drivers described in the guideline need to be adhered to. Generally, people younger than 15 should not be using them. Basically, they do not have the heft and strength necessary in some circumstances.

The guideline also covers precautions to consider when passengers need to be carried. ATVs are not designed for passengers, nor are they designed to carry baby carseats!

An issue highlighted while these guidelines were developed was the lack of a suitable helmet for every day use to prevent the head injuries which are often the result of ATV accidents.

Standards New Zealand has recently approved a helmet that suits low speed off-road use. A subcommittee of the Agriculture Industry Focus group has been working with OSH, ACC and Standards NZ to get that approval. Manufacturers will be making these helmets in the New Year and I trust many farmers will use them.

The guideline mentions other factors that farmers, horticulturists and farm foresters can consider to reduce ATV accidents. These include improving tracks and accessways on the farm and ensuring that ATVs are well maintained.

I commend these guidelines for the safe use of ATVs on New Zealand Farms to all those that use them. I congratulate the Agriculture Industry Focus Group for publishing the guidelines and I look forward to seeing the accident statistics from ATVs reduce significantly.

ENDS

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