18 Dec 2014

Fines a warning for smaller family farms

8:19 am on 18 December 2014

Federated Farmers says stiff fines imposed on farmers for not wearing helmets on quad bikes is a warning for smaller family operated farms that may not have strict policies in place.

A share-milking couple from Canvastown, near Blenheim, were each fined $20,000 in the Blenheim District Court on 16 December for offences including not wearing a helmet and carrying children on a quadbike.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne said the law required people to wear a helmet and, as frustrating as farmers might find it, they needed to get their heads around taking all steps to be safe.

She said larger corporate farms had health and safety regulations in place, but it was likely smaller farms wouldn't have such strict enforcement.

"The farming families that are going to be hit more seriously through ... having to get on board and upskill to meet some of the requirements are the smaller family type farms, because the big corporate farms they just have a policy you must wear a helmet, you mustn't have passengers etc."

Meanwhile, new research from Queensland's James Cook University reveals that farmers are confused about quad bike safety and many don't know who to ask about the dangers or how to reduce the risks.

The research also found that the attitudes of retailers and manufacturers were a powerful influence on quad bike customers, and most manufacturers resisted adding safety features.