Our thoughts are with the family of the young girl who was involved in the quad bike incident over the weekend. OnFarmSafety New Zealand don't know the full circumstances of this tragedy but we do understand the practicalities of juggling the farm management pressures.
Many families in New Zealand are permanently on the run it seems coping with managing their farming businesses and all the on-going challenges - financial pressure, workload, combining an off farm job, seasonal pressures, climatic situations and family commitments.
We discuss with all our OnFarmSafety clients the need to assess and manage the element of risk as they undertake their tasks that they have to complete every day and to look at ways that they can eliminate, isolate or minimise (E,I,M) that treat to each persons safety and health.
In this instance, it appears that there are three hazards that required thinking through - the quad bike, the animal or animals and the child. I know its now in hind sight but is it worth the risk to have the child in this situation - animals are very unpredictable especially bulls and a quad bike has no protective structure unlike a farm ute or enclosed vehicle.
There is always the temptation, or perhaps perceived necessity to include kids in the farm working day. It's our lifestyle and home, and we want the farm culture to be part of our families lives. Each family needs to discuss the risks around this and ways that having children on the farm with us can be better managed.
On many farms quad bikes are a fundamental tool/machine that makes managing our farm work load very efficient when used the right way.
We need to always take into account contributing human factors (how we are feeling, stress, fatigue, distractions etc.) the tasks being undertaken, the terrain, the capability/experience of the rider, the maintenance of the bike, protective clothing etc and we need to be aware of becoming complacent - yes many of use are doing the same repetitive tasks everyday but circumstances around those tasks can often change.
All farmers must learn to assess and manage the element of risk. We can all learn from this and give consideration to ways we would manage a situation like this ourselves.