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ATVs: Safer farm transport sought

Safer farm transport sought

All terrain vehicles (ATVs) have become an almost indispensable tool on farms – but at a cost, as a recent report from the Taranaki Coroner has identified.

A Coroner’s Court inquest in New Plymouth yesterday heard that 12-year old Jayden Boyd was joy-riding unsupervised on an ATV when it rolled and trapped him underneath. He died from asphyxiation and brain damage.

The Department of Labour presented its report into the boy’s death to the Coroner, and recommended that farmers consider safer alternatives to ATVs.

National operations manager for health and safety, Mike Cosman, said media reports today suggesting the Department was calling for the removal of ATVs from farms were incorrect.

Mr Cosman said the Department of Labour did not advocate the wholesale removal of ATVs from New Zealand farms, but did want farmers to think carefully about selecting the right vehicle for the job and using ATVs safely.

“DoL does not want to see a blanket removal of ATVs and we’re not suggesting farmers throw the keys away to the ATVs they’re currently using, as they do have a genuine place on farms. We simply want them to think about whether a safer alternative might suit them better in the future. ATVs can be safe so long as they’re used by experienced operators and in suitable conditions.

“ATVs have very limited load carrying capacity and are not designed to carry passengers. They also need to be actively ridden to adjust the centre of gravity because of their tendency to tip over, so it makes sense to have the right vehicle for the job.”

Alternatives to ATVs include mini-tractors and other vehicles with a lower centre of gravity and a wider wheelbase. These often have side-by-side seating with rollover protection and seat belts.

He said many farmers had already realised the potential risks of ATVs and had decided to limit their use on farms.

“We are obviously concerned about young people using ATVs, because they don’t have the strength or the experience to handle these bikes. And we must remember that these are working machines not toys,” he said

ATV manufacturers recommend age restrictions, which differ from model to model. The Department of Labour strongly urges farmers adhere to the driver age restrictions and promote responsible use including the wearing of helmets at all times.

Further information about the safe use of ATVs can be found at http://www.osh.dol.govt.nz/order/catalogue/23.shtml

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