Quad bikes and operator protective devices

WorkSafe is reminding agricultural employers of their duties to provide and maintain safe quad bikes.
Safety alert published

Tuesday 07 Jun 2022

Industries and topics
  • Agriculture
  • Quad bikes

Operator protective devices (OPDs) save lives

WorkSafe has been notified of a number of serious quad bike incidents. Where OPDs have been installed correctly on those quad bikes, the riders have walked away with relatively minor injuries. However, people are still dying in quad bike incidents in Victoria.

Choosing the right vehicle

Before you turn the quad bike on, plan the task you are about to perform. Ask the following questions:

  • Do I really need to use a quad bike?
  • Can I use remote monitoring instead?
  • Can I use a safer vehicle? For example, a roadworthy vehicle such as a ute. Roadworthy utes have many inbuilt safety features, like airbags, seatbelts and a fully enclosed cabin, that make it much safer than a quad bike.

If you cannot use a ute, you should consider using other vehicles such as a tractor, side-by-side or two-wheeled motorbike, which may be safer than quad bikes.

If a safer vehicle cannot be used to perform the task, only then should you use a quad bike, which should be fitted with an OPD.

Fit an OPD to your quadbike

All quad bikes on working farms should be fitted with OPDs.

Check with the OPD manufacturer or supplier to ensure the OPD you purchase is suitable for your quad bike.

OPDs that attach to towbars are most suited to quad bikes with independent rear suspension, as the towbar does not move in relation to the body mounting point of the quad bike. If this style of OPD is fitted to a quad bike without independent rear suspension, then additional wear components such as a wear sleeve may be required to allow free movement and to minimize wear of the OPD.

If an OPD attaches to a rack then the rack must be structurally sound. Before buying an OPD to attach to a rack, inspect the rack to make sure it mounts to the quad bike's frame and not just to plastic fairings.

OPDs should never be fitted:

  • to plastic racks (in line with manufacturers' instructions)
  • to racks that are not of solid construction
  • where the racks have poor welds as they may not be able to support the load of a rolling quad bike

By mounting an OPD to the rack, you reduce the rack's load carrying capacity by the weight of the rack. Ensure that the rack will still support the loads you intend to carry on it.

If an OPD cannot be fitted, the quad bike should be decommissioned. To prevent use of a decommissioned quad bike, you should remove the key, battery and any fuel. To prevent unauthorised use, keys should never be left in vehicles.

OPDs need maintenance

OPDs must be checked regularly for security and wear as part of normal pre-start checks.

OPDs may not perform as intended if the OPD mounting points are compromised. Check for:

  • cracks in racks
  • security of all bolts and fittings where the OPD attaches to the quad bike

Some OPDs have moving parts and bushes that can wear, others require tensioning, while some may be damaged by being in sunlight (UV) for extended periods (which you may notice by changes in the material colour). Inspect, adjust or replace as needed.

Ensure maintenance is performed in accordance with the owner's manual provided with the OPD.

Quad bikes need maintenance

Employers and self-employed persons must ensure quad bikes are maintained.

One way this can be done is appointing suitably competent persons (such as your quad bike mechanic or service agent) to maintain the quad bike to ensure that it is safe to operate.

Being 'safe to operate' includes the fitting and servicing of the OPD, such as inspecting for wear and security of the OPD.

Suppliers must take steps to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the quad bike is safe. Suggested ways to do so are:

  • Providing advice about quad bike safety where an OPD is not fitted.
  • Provide information regarding having an OPD retrofitted.

What to do if your quad bike is involved in a rollover or collision?

If a quad bike is involved in an incident (for example a collision, roll over, fire etc.), you should get the quad bike and OPD checked by a competent person, such as a local quad bike mechanic or service agent. You should also check with your OPD manufacturer to see if the OPD can be repaired or if it must be replaced after a rollover or collision.

Depending on the incident, there are a number of other important actions you may need to take, including notifying WorkSafe and preserving the scene if possible and if safe to do so.

If you are buying a quad bike

From 11 October 2021, new and second-hand imported utility quad bikes must meet a minimum level of stability, and come with an OPD. OPDs help to protect you from being trapped under the quad bike if it rolls over.

If your quad bike doesn't have OPDs installed and there is a risk of rollover, then you must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.