A RECENT campaign aimed at improving safety for farm workers using quad bikes across the Craven district has paid dividends according to the Health and Safety Executive.
HSE inspectors visited a total of 119 farms in the Craven area between 11 December 2006 and 19 January 2007, with the focus particularly on workplace transport, and the provision of protective equipment and training.
...you can never be complacent about wearing protective headgear, as it could be the difference between life and death
Jonathan Metcalfe - Craven farmer
Of the 87 farms with quad bikes, four were served with Prohibition Notices, one to stop the use of a quad bike without a helmet (despite one being available) by the 18-year old son of the farmer, and three to stop the use of a bike until a helmet was available.
A further two Improvement Notices were also served, which require training of the quad bike operators.
The HSE inspectors insist that throughout the campaign there was evidence that the issue of quad bike safety had been significantly raised among the farming community in Craven.
Farmers reported that the visits had prompted them to buy safety helmets, and local dealers noted an increase in the servicing of bikes and the refitting of tyres. As a safety bonus, there was also evidence that the inspection had prompted farmers to look at other risks on their farms and many had, for example, replaced the old or unsuitable ladders which are another leading cause of injury.
The targeted inspection was prompted by the tragic death of a farm worker in a quad bike accident at Halton West, near Skipton, which led to a £13,000 fine plus substantial costs for his employers.
The case, one of two fatalities in the area due to quad bikes, highlighted the importance of the wearing of the safety helmet that could have saved the man's life for relatively little cost. All the farmers visited by HSE said they were aware of the background to both quad bike accidents.
Linton farmer Jonathan Metcalfe said: "All too often people are killed or injured due to lack of appropriate headgear in the workplace and the HSE campaign has helped to highlight the dangers.
"As a farmer who regularly uses transport in the workplace, I believe that you can never be complacent about wearing protective headgear, as it could be the difference between life and death."
Keith King, the HSE Principal Inspector who led the Craven campaign, added: "Between 1996 and 2006 23 people were killed nationally in accidents at work on quad bikes. Of these 17 involved head injuries where no head protection was worn.
"If you don't wear a helmet, you greatly increase the risk of serious injury. Sensible health and safety is about managing risks, not eliminating them. It is vital to always wear a helmet, maintain the vehicle properly, and consider getting some proper training in how to handle the quad bike. It is encouraging to see that HSE's campaign seems to be driving these messages home in Craven."