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Victorian Coroner finds quad bike roll bar would have saved farmers life

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PROTECT YOURSELF: Operator protection devices, commonly referred to as roll-bars are designed to prevent death by crushing or asphyxiation. Photo: National Farmers Federation

PROTECT YOURSELF: Operator protection devices, commonly referred to as roll-bars are designed to prevent death by crushing or asphyxiation. Photo: National Farmers Federation

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Coroner finds quad bike roll bar would have prevented a farmers death

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The simple yet tragic finding by the Victorian Coroner was that the death of 69 year old farmer Guustaaf Walta was preventable.

Released today, the coroner's report into the death of Mr Walta included expert advice that the fatal head and chest injuries sustained when Mr Walta's quad bike rolled in 2017 could have been prevented through the fitting of an operator protection device, commonly known as a roll-bar, or had Mr Walta worn the appropriate safety helmet.

In the report Coroner Paresa Spanos said Mr Walta had been working alone at the time of his death, rounding up sheep, when he lost control of his bike.

"The quad bike was not fitted with a crush protection device and Mr Walta was not wearing a safety helmet at the time of the incident," she said.

"Quad bike related deaths, particularly in the agricultural industry, have long been a concern to coroners throughout Australia."

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Within the reports comments Coroner Spanos said she supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions recommendations, including the mandatory fitment of operator protection devices on quad bikes, minimum stability requirements and holistic measures such as the use of helmets, training and the banning of children from the use of adult sized quad bikes.

"The ACCC identified that quad bikes had been responsible for 114 deaths in Australia from 2011 to October 2017," she said.

"More than half the deaths associated with quad bikes were the result of a rollover.

"I commend the efforts taken by industry bodies and state and federal authorities to implement a range of measures designed to raise awareness if the dangers of quad bikes, improve quad bike safety and prevent fatalities.

"The ACCC's comprehensive report highlights how much safety measures can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, particularly from rollover incidents.

"I support the proposed recommendations as set out in the ACCC's final recommendations to the minister."

National Farmers' Federation general manager of workforce and legal affairs Ben Rogers said the evidence was clear, operator protection devices saved lives.

"The Coroner's finding adds to a mountain of research that affirms that OPDs can prevent loss of life in incidents of quad bike rollover," he said.

"We hope that the Coroner's conclusion is the 'push' the Government needs to make mandatory OPDs a reality. The evidence is clear and can no longer be ignored."

Mr Rogers said earlier this week a coalition of leading rural and medical spokespersons, including NFF met with politicians in Canberra to plead with the Government to endorse the ACCC's recommendations.

"Unfortunately, it appears that quad bike manufacturers continue to peddle mistruths about the role of OPDs," he said.

"In our discussions we were able to set the record straight and we left many of those we met with, with a new more informed view of what's needed to make these popular but dangerous farm vehicles safer.

"In addition to individual farmers, the delegation included representatives of the National Farmers Federation, Farm Safe, Country Women's Association of NSW, Royal College of Surgeons and AgHealth Australia."

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