Friday, 25 October 2019 08:55

Shonky work scuppers safety

Written by  Mark Daniel

Recent news that roll bars will be mandatory on quads in Australia within 24 months prompts the question: what’s going to happen in New Zealand?

WorkSafe will likely push for a similar solution, given that their stance is to take a lead from the Aussie cousins.

Quizzed earlier this year about endorsing two specific crush prevention devices (CPDs) sold in NZ, agricultural lead Al McCone said WorkSafe had not approved or endorsed any CPDs. 

“We have recommended to ACC two CPDs suitable for subsidy, based on information provided to Victoria and New South Wales for their subsidy schemes,” he said.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘endorse’, ‘approve’ or ‘recommend’ as amounting to the same thing. Also fit for purpose are ‘confirm’, ‘approval’, ‘favourable’, ‘consider satisfactory’ and ‘suggest’.

So how can WorkSafe’s ‘recommendation’ make sense given that there is no standard for such a structure? Could a farmer or landowner with a pipe bender or welder make an evening DIY foray and produce the goods? 

Anyway, Rural News is yet to see any independent tests that confirm that such a device is effective and, importantly, safe. 

Individuals who have fitted CPDs will of course sing their praises, but should they be mandatory? We should be heeding the concerns of quad manufacturers who say their machines are not suitable for CPDs. Indeed, safety stickers fitted to the machines clearly give maximum load ratings for rear carriers and tow-bars – both areas where these devices are mounted.

Surely, the dynamic loadings imposed on these fitments in rollovers exceed those stated maximums and bring into question the suitability of those mounting points for CPDs. Of course, manufacturers offer alternative vehicles, such as UTVs, if a safety structure is deemed necessary.

Time and time again, global research shows that wearing a good quality helmet, prohibiting youngsters and passengers, and providing initial and ongoing training most effectively save lives. But generational change will ultimately have the greatest effect, with young farmers much more aware of the issues and solutions. 

The difficulty of convincing oldies that a fresh attitude can have positive results showed up on a radio talkback show last week. 

A South Island farmer told the host: “I have a CPD, but it’s in the back of the shed at the moment because I changed machines a few weeks ago and haven’t got around to fitting it yet.” Then he added: “You’ll never get me to wear a safety helmet.”

It’s time for WorkSafe to ‘recommend’ proof that helmets and passenger prohibition prevent serious injury and save lives. 

It’s not a ‘maybe’ that such moves improve safety, it’s a fact.

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