Farm rules for four wheels

Freddy learns about his responsibilities when his farm workers use quad bikes

Pebbles is relaxing on the front porch at her place.  She hears Freddy coming before she sees him, as he roars up on his new quad bike.

“Happy New Year Dad,” Pebbles yells out over the noise of the engine, “I see you have got yourself a new toy?”

“Yes Pebbles, this is my Christmas present, a brand new quad bike.  It’s great around the farm.  I can get to all those tight hard-to-access spots that my old bike couldn’t get to,” boasts Freddy.

That’s great Dad, but have you heard about all those quad bike accidents over the Christmas period?”  asks Pebbles.  “There have been a number of reported cases in the news recently.  As recently as last week a young sharemilker suffered head and chest injuries after crashing his quad bike in a ditch.” 

“Yes I have Pebbles.  Since getting my new bike I have been paying close attention to those articles.  But what are my responsibilities when my farm workers are using quad bikes around my farm?” asks Freddy.

“There is no specific law covering your responsibilities with quad bikes.  However, when quad bikes are being used for work purposes, as they are on farms, they are covered by the Health and Safety in Employment Act.  That Act requires employers to take “all practicable steps” to prevent employees and others from being harmed in their workplace,” explains Pebbles. 

“I see.  Will providing helmets mean that I am taking all practicable steps?” asks Freddy.

“Well Dad, for farm owners whose workers use quad bikes, practicable steps will include providing helmets, but also ensuring that they are worn and providing adequate training for workers using quad bikes,” explains Pebbles.  “You should ensure that you and your workers always wear a helmet and have the appropriate training.  Never let young people under 16 years ride an adult sized bike, and ensure that the quad bike is the right bike for the job.”

“That’s good, I’ve done all of that, but what about employees who don’t follow instructions, and won’t wear a helmet?”

“Well, Dad, your response should be the same as it would be if the employee did other serious things in the workplace.  Clearly communicate to the worker that wearing a helmet prevents injury and that helmets must be worn or disciplinary action will be taken.  You should also make sure that it is clearly spelt out in your employment agreements that not complying with health and safety requirements will be considered serious misconduct and could result in disciplinary action,” explains Pebbles.

“Thanks for that Pebbles.  I’ll get on to reminding my workers about the importance of wearing helmets straight away.  I’ll also look up my local quad bike training provider on the internet and make sure that all my staff are adequately trained,” says Freddy.


The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 

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Philip McCarthy