- Riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job
- Choose the right vehicle for the job
- Always wear a helmet
- Don’t allow children to ride adult-sized farm bikes
The purpose of these guidelines is to help reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities by providing practical guidance on how to manage various two-wheeled motorbike hazards.
On Monday 4th April 2016, the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into effect. HSWA repeals the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with immediate effect. All references to the 1992 Act on this website and within our guidance will be progressively removed. The existing guidance sets out relevant information and practices that people can follow to help keep their farms healthy and safe.
This publication identifies potential hazards of riding a two-wheeled motorbike and gives practical advice on how to reduce and prevent accidents on farms.
WorkSafe NZ accepts the recommendations in this guide as current industry best practice. They will help you comply with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (the HSE Act).
A lot of on-farm injuries involve two-wheeled bikes. The common causes are:
This guide applies to farmers, farm employers, farm employees, contractors (and those who hire them – principals), health and safety advisers, representatives and consultants – anyone riding a two-wheeled motorbike on a farm.
Industry experts helped WorkSafe NZ develop this guide. WorkSafe NZ also conducted a thorough review of accident statistics and published academic literature, and looked at how overseas health and safety regulators manage the same issues.
WorkSafe NZ has taken every effort to make sure the guide’s recommended hazard controls reflect current best practice.
The most common hazards faced by two-wheeled motorbike users on farms are set out on the following pages. Guidance is provided about ways to effectively control these hazards.
You can manage farm bike hazards by making sure you’re using the right vehicle for the job. For example, a side-by-side is better for carrying loads, and a ute is better for taking passengers around the farm.
When you’re looking to buy a new vehicle, the supplier can help with advice on the best one to meet your needs.
Picking the right vehicle for the job doesn’t mean buying a fleet of expensive vehicles. But it’s important to look at each farm task as it needs to be done, and think carefully about whether the bike is the right tool before heading off.
Refer to the right vehicle for the job chart on page 18 for more information.
When you are familiar with a bike, you know when something is wrong and how to fix it.
It is important you know how your bike works before you ride it. Not all bikes are the same and it can take time to get a “feel” for a bike you haven’t ridden before. If you haven’t ridden a bike for a while, its condition may have changed since you last rode it. Ensure that the bike used for the job is suitable for the rider. Take into account the size and the power of the vehicle.
Read the owner’s manual and know the controls, especially when riding new or different bikes. Check the bike before riding – especially if you weren’t the last person to use it or you haven’t used it in some time.
Figure 1: Pre-ride inspection
Before starting the bike, check the following (refer to Figure 1):
Make sure your tyres are in good condition. Check the following features:
If your bike has mirrors:
After you’ve started the bike, check the following (refer to Figure 1):
Riders must know about the best routes to take, no-go zones, when to use the bike for farm tasks and when to use other vehicles.
Many farms around New Zealand use two-wheeled bikes, often where the terrain is difficult. Very steep, rough, slippery or loose ground can be inaccessible for two-wheeled bikes unless there are well-formed tracks. Riders can lose control and crash in poor ground conditions.
Race tape, wire, irrigation pipes and other stationary objects are also hazardous. Riders can hit them and come off the bike; hitting the ground, another object or the bike itself.
Use good riding techniques, including active riding.
Smooth clutch operation, gear changing and braking are the keys to skilful riding. Avoid sudden braking or steering.
Active riding uses balance and body position to influence stability and performance when cornering and riding on a slope.
Keep your feet horizontal on the footrests to keep the bike stable. Taking one foot off the footrest will unbalance the bike. This can make the bike slide or fall. Balancing on the footrests improves all parts of riding and is an essential part of good riding technique.
When riding on steep or rough ground you must move and use your bodyweight to stabilise the bike. Do this while standing with your knees bent and your weight on the footrests.
When riding uphill:
When riding downhill:
When riding across a slope:
When riding on slippery ground:
When riding on rough ground:
Look out for wires, race tapes, irrigation pipes and other objects that you could run into and knock you off the bike.
Where necessary, use fluorescent tape or flags to make them easier to see for riders. Also note these hazards on farm maps.
Figure 2: Fluorescent tape
Always wear a helmet while riding a two-wheeled bike.
If you don’t wear a helmet, you significantly increase the chances of having a head injury.
The helmet must be well-fitting, securely fastened and kept in good condition (follow the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions).
Riders can wear quad bike helmets if the bike is used at speeds under 30km/h. The helmet must meet NZS 8600. However, if the bike is used at speeds over 30km/h the helmet must meet NZS 5430 or AS 1698.
You should always wear boots while riding a motorbike. Depending on the conditions, you should also consider wearing the following: clothing that covers arms and legs (to protect your skin if you fall off and slide), gloves and eye protection (goggles). You may need to wear high-visibility gear sometimes.
See the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) recommendations for riding a motorbike on the road: www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/motorcycle-road-code/ you-and-your-motorcycle/wearing-the-right-gear.html
Bikes become unbalanced and harder to control when a passenger’s weight is added. It raises the bike’s centre of gravity and makes it harder to use active riding techniques because the rider and passenger have to work together.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications when deciding whether to carry passengers.
Riding a farm bike while doing something else at the same time (eg mustering or doing a lambing beat) poses hazards. This is because the rider’s attention is divided; focusing on the livestock rather than the ground they are riding over. The rider may not be aware of unexpected surface changes until it’s too late and they have lost control of the bike. Falls from the bike, particularly at speed, can cause serious injuries or death.
If possible, stop the bike and get off before doing something else. If it is not possible, keep a slow speed and look at the terrain where you can see hazards or obstructions.
If multi-tasking is necessary, it might be better to use another vehicle. Two-wheeled bikes need your full attention to balance and control.
When mustering, work out the route before you start. Open the gates and work out where you should be on guard – places where stock are likely to break away or there are obstacles.
Carrying loads on two-wheeled bikes is risky because they change the bike’s width and make it hard to lean when cornering. The extra weight alters the centre of gravity, making it harder to control and making braking distances longer.
Don’t carry loads across your knees. Use the front and rear carriers, if provided.
If you must carry gear, another vehicle would be better for the job. Think about using a side- by-side or ute instead.
If you have to carry gear on a two-wheeler:
If you are thinking about adding panniers to the bike (refer to Figure 4), check the manufacturer’s recommendations first.
Figure 3: Front and rear carriers
Figure 4: Panniers
Towing a trailer affects the bike’s handling, braking and stability. You could lose control of the bike if you jack-knife, lose traction or fall over.
Do not tow trailers with a two-wheeled bike unless the bike and trailer are specifically designed to work together.
Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for both the bike and trailer to see if they are safe and designed to be used together.
If you need to tow a trailer, consider using a more suitable vehicle instead.
Working alone is a common hazard in farm work, and isn’t just restricted to bike use.
If a farmer has an accident while working alone in a remote part of the farm, it could take a long time for help to arrive. Sometimes, people die because medical help did not arrive in time.
Tell someone where you are working and when you plan to return. Carry a mobile phone or two-way radio if possible. Have regular check-in times. This will speed up a response if you do not return.
It is important to have a way of raising the alarm if you are hurt, like a mobile phone or emergency beacon. Some mobile phones have built-in GPS and they can communicate your location. You can even download applications (apps) to smart phones so you can track several phones at once, in real time.
Work out an emergency plan with workers and family members so they know what to do if something goes wrong.
Sometimes stress, fatigue or a driver’s attitude (eg over-confidence or recklessness), drugs or alcohol can impair riders. These can cause poor judgement, reduced balance, co-ordination and reaction times – greatly increasing the risk of injury or death.
Never ride a bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It can be hazardous if someone rides the bike without the owner knowing or giving permission.
Unattended bikes might tempt untrained riders or people not used to bikes or the farm – whether they are visitors, children or workers.
Take the keys out of the bike to make sure the bike is only used when the farmer or owner gives permission.
By law, employers and other workers have to do everything practical to prevent unsafe driving practices on the farm. If this doesn’t happen, the employer or employee could go to court and get fined for letting dangerous work happen.
Riding on the road means dealing with other fast moving vehicles. When riding on the road you’re also generally moving at higher speed, making it more dangerous should you have a fall.
Anyone riding a two-wheeled motorbike on the road must have a motorcycle licence (ie a Class 6 driver licence) and follow the road rules.
NZTA recommends the following steps to stay safe on roads:
Maintenance is important to keep the bike working properly.
Poor maintenance can create hazards, like brake failures or broken foot pegs.
Basic maintenance requirements:
Riders must be trained and/or experienced enough to do the job.
Only let people with the right training and experience ride a two-wheeled bike.
Bike riders must have appropriate riding skills. To check a rider’s skills, talk about safe farm bike riding with them and get them to show their skills under direct supervision.
Riders must know about the best routes to take, no-go zones and what jobs can be done by bike compared to other vehicles.
When learning to ride, choose an area of flat ground without obstacles and hazards. Make sure the rider knows the bike’s controls.
Only use low gears to start with. The rider should take time to get used to the bike’s controls, particularly the throttle, brakes and clutch. The rider should practice gear changes, because changing gears smoothly is a big part of safe bike riding.
Children should not ride adult-sized farm bikes.
Often children don’t have the judgment, skills and strength to safely ride a full-sized farm bike. Manufacturers make smaller models for children, but the same riding techniques – under adult supervision – are needed.
Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended age limits.
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 gives employees the right to be involved in workplace health and safety matters. One way this can be achieved is by electing a health and safety representative. This is someone employees can go to when they have any concerns or suggestions about workplace health and safety. The representative will work with the employer in good faith to find a solution.
This representative is allowed to take two days paid leave per year to undergo approved health and safety training.
Refer to the Choosing the Right Vehicle for the Job assessment table to determine the appropriate vehicle to meet your requirements.
|All Practicable Steps||
Section 2A Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992:
‘The steps taken to achieve the result that it is reasonably practicable to take in the circumstances, having regard to:
‘To avoid doubt, a person required by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to take all practicable steps is required to take those steps only in respect of circumstances that the person knows or ought reasonably to know about.’
|GPS||Global Positioning System. A space-based satellite navigation system that gives location and time information, in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system gives information to military, civil and commercial users around the world.|
|Panniers||Baskets, bags, boxes or similar containers; carried in pairs; attached to the sides of a motorcycle.|
|Pillion Passenger||Pillion is the name of a secondary pad, cushion or seat behind the main seat or saddle on a horse, bike, bicycle or moped. Someone using this seat is ‘riding pillion’, they can also be called the ‘pillion’ or ‘pillion passenger’.|
Reducing Risk of Injury Associated with Farm Bikes on Farms in Australia, T Schalk & L Fragar. Australian Agricultural Health Unit, 1999
Vehicle Injury Associated with Australian Agriculture: The Facts 2008, C Morton, L Fragar & K Pollock. Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, 2008 (Facts and Figures on Farm Health and Safety Series No 14) Chapter 4 On-farm injury deaths, 4.3.2 2-wheeled bikes
Riding Farm Bikes for the Farmer, ACC 2002
Farming Bulletin: Safe Use of 2-Wheel Bikes in Agriculture, OSH 1998
Agricultural Bike Safety, Farm Safe WA, 2005
Farm Bikes, Vic Roads
Farm Vehicles, 2 and 4 Wheeled Motorbikes, The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, 2008
Quadbike and Vehicle Safety, Farmsafe Australia
Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 – Quad Bike and 2 Wheel Bike Requirements: Comment Paper, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, 2011
Rural Plant: Code of Practice 2004, Section 8.4 All terrain vehicles
Use of Helmets When Operating Quad Bikes (ATVs), Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, 2012 (Information guide; no. 33)
This guide was prepared by WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe NZ), with assistance from a sector working group with representatives from:
The guide has been largely adapted from an existing ACC publication: Riding Farm Bikes for the Farmer. WorkSafe New Zealand also acknowledges the following organisations for providing information used to develop this guide:
Some information has been reproduced courtesy of WorkSafe, Department of Commerce, Western Australia (www.worksafe.wa.gov.au).
WorkSafe New Zealand has made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this publication is reliable, but makes no guarantee of its completeness. WorkSafe New Zealand may change the contents of this guide at any time without notice.
Except for the logos of WorkSafe New Zealand, this copyright work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial 3.0 NZ licence.
To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/nz/
In essence, you are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to WorkSafe New Zealand and abide by the other licence terms.
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