Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the scheme at the Victorian Farmers Federation annual conference in Melbourne today.
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.
WorkSafe Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation are working through final details of the scheme, which will begin later this year. The scheme will be administered by the VFF.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the scheme supported WorkSafe’s decision earlier this year to include appropriately fitted rollover protection devices to its list of approved safety measures aimed at reducing the risks associated with quad bike use.
“This rebate scheme is designed to encourage farmers to fit an appropriate rollover protection device, or consider buying another vehicle so that they, their families and their workers can stay safe,” Ms Williams said. “We have no doubt that this will save lives.”
“These are tough economic times for many farmers and they simply cannot afford to be injured - or worse - and not be able to work and look after their families. So WorkSafe encourages every eligible farmer to make use of this rebate.”
The rebate will be available to businesses in Victoria who have no more than 19 employees, and where agriculture is their primary source of income. Farmers with no employees will also be eligible if they are based in Victoria and agriculture is their primary source of income.
The rebates will be offered on a first in, first served basis.
Ms Williams said WorkSafe was also working on a risk assessment tool to assist quad bike users to identify hazards associated with quad bike use.
“The tool will help farmers determine if a quad bike is the most suitable vehicle for the task and when a risk of rollover may be present,” Ms Williams said.
But Ms Williams said that while the rebate scheme would be a significant boost in the battle against quad bike fatalities, it was important to remind all quad bike users that appropriately fitted rollover protection would never on its own constitute a safe system of work in a Victorian workplace.
“Other safety measures are also important. Operators should wear helmets, be appropriately trained and the quad bikes should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and used for the purpose in which they were designed,” she said.
‘Passengers should not be carried and adult-sized quad bikes should not be operated by children under 16.”
WorkSafe will soon be launching a major public awareness campaign in regional Victoria to warn of the risks associated with using quad bikes in the workplace.
Further information on quad bike safety is available at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au