VICTORIAN farmers will be eligible for quad bike roll-over protection rebates of up to $1200 in a subsidy scheme announced by the State Government today.
At the Victorian Farmers Federation conference in Melbourne today, Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $6 million subsidy scheme for farmers to make their quad bikes safer.
The scheme provides rebates to farmers to either fit rollover protection devices on existing quad bikes or help them purchase an alternative safer vehicle.
Last year, 22 people lost their lives in quad bike incidents in Australia. In Victoria, two farmers have lost their lives on farms in the past three months after being crushed when their quad bikes overturned.
The rebate supports a recent decision by WorkSafe to include appropriately-fitted rollover protection devices on quad bikes to its list of approved safety measures to help drive down workplace fatalities and injuries.
WorkSafe will also be shortly releasing a major public awareness campaign in regional Victoria on the risks associated with using quad bikes on farms.
Eligible farmers will be offered up to $600 each for up to two quad bikes to fit rollover protection (known as an operator protection device or OPD), or $1200 towards the cost of buying a more appropriate work vehicle.
It is estimated that more than 5000 farmers will receive the rebate over the two-year life of the scheme, which will be managed by WorkSafe Victoria and the VFF.
Premier Andrews said too many Victorians have died or have been seriously injured using quad bikes and that’s why the Labor Government is taking action to protect the state’s farmers.
“This is about saving lives and we encourage every eligible farmer to make use of this rebate and stay safe.”
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said the health and safety of the state’s farmers and their families must always come first.
“That’s why we’re taking action to support our agricultural communities.”
VFF lobbying delivers rebates
The subsidy scheme commitment was applauded by outgoing VFF president Peter Tuohey and farmers at the conference.
“This funding is a major breakthrough in protecting farmers’ lives.”
He said the quad bike fatality toll was unacceptable and it is great the Victorian Government has taken action.
The VFF said it first called for a rebate on the fitting of roll-over protective (ROP) devices in its pre-Budget submission to Government in February.
The VFF’s call followed WorkSafe Victoria’s announcement that it deemed ROPs (also referred to as Operator Protection Devices) as “an appropriate means of reducing risks when quad bikes are used in the workplace”.
In February, WorkSafe announced the authority had accepted that a roll-over protection device is an appropriate means of reducing risks when quad bikes are used in workplaces. At the time, WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Marnie Williams stated: “This means that if a roll-over was to occur, the employer could face prosecution for failing to reduce the risk to the operator.”
Since then WorkSafe has been developing a Quad-bike Risk Assessment Tool that will assist farmers in assessing the risk of a Quad bike roll-overs.
Although the assessment tool has not been released, early indications are that in nearly all cases it will lead to the conclusion that there is a risk of roll-over and an OPD should be fitted or the quad bike should be replaced with a side-by-side vehicle, the VFF said.
Sources: VFF, Victorian Government.