WorkSafe legal battle over farm quad bikes

WorkSafe legal battle over farm quad bikes

In March 2016, WorkSafe Victoria announced a new policy requiring all quad bikes used on Victorian farming properties to be fitted with operator protective devices (OPD's) to prevent death or serious injury to drivers or passengers in the vehicle.

Farms that failed to install the device could be fined or further penalised by WorkSafe, while farms which complied with the new policy were eligible to receive a rebate for the cost of the OPD's. However, five of the world's largest quad bike manufacturers (being Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawaski and BRP) have recently issued joint Supreme Court proceedings against WorkSafe, alleging they have overstepped their legislative authority and that OPD's should not be fitted to quad bikes or similar machines. The proceedings allege that the installation of OPD's actually increases an operator's risk of suffering injury.

In response to the court proceedings, WorkSafe have indicated that the policy will be pursued as it aims to protect farm workers, many of whom are very young and inexperienced, from serious harm. In 2017 alone, six people have died in quad biking accidents, with a total of 31 dying between January 2015 and December 2016.

The expenses related to quad biking injuries will be covered by the Victorian WorkCover Authority if the injured person was operating one in the course of their employment on the farm. If the injured person was not an employee of the farm, and the accident happened on private land, the injured person is specifically excluded from claiming assistance from the Transport Accident Commission. In these circumstances, a claim would need to be made under the farm owner's public liability insurance.

Given the complexities of this area, it is always best to get accurate advice about your potential entitlements.

We invite you to contact one of our expert personal injury lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 for further information.

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