CALLS for Crush Protection Devices to be installed on quad bikes is a contentious issue in Australia.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, representing the interests of quad bike manufacturers, and the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (AgHealth) are diametrically opposed on the matter.
On the one hand the FCIA points to the ATV Safety website that has a logo that says “Never fit ROPS – we won’t have a bar of it” and states that they can cause more injuries than they prevent.
It says FCIA opposition to the fitting of ROPS and CPDs on quad bikes is based on a series of studies conducted by Dynamic Research Inc between 1998 and 2008, which modelled several types of quad bike overturns based on 113 real accidents from the UK and the US. The website stresses a “Wear it or Park it” helmet use message.
On the other hand, AgHealth says this “strident industry opposition” is reminiscent of tactics used by tobacco and asbestos industries to outsource research to purportedly independent agencies to distance themselves from claims of bias, and points to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission letter to Farmsafe Australia CEO Tony Lower that stated the “…FCIA representations may have contravened the misleading and deceptive conduct provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010”.
“Inevitably, decisions that incorporate a mix of politics, values and economic interests will result in tensions,” says Mr Lower in an editorial undertaken for Safety Week 2013. “However, decisions should always be informed by the best available science, common sense and community values.
“There is no doubt that more research is needed on CPDs/ROPS, but based on current evidence and precautionary principles, fitting of suitably tested devices is warranted.”
The debate is reminiscent of a similar situation which took place prior to the introduction of mandatory Roll Over Protection Systems legislation in Australia in 1982. Since this time there has been a 72 per cent decline in tractor rollover fatalities.
Much of the debate could soon be settled by a $1.3m Sydney University study being funded by Workcover NSW, which has been simulating crash scenarios.
Mr Lower describes it as a very important piece of work that will contribute to the message to farmers about how, whether and when to use quad bikes.