Commission ‘monitoring’ quad safety situation on farms

Safety concerns about quad bikes used on farms are being monitored by the European Commission which will consider adapting relevant regulatory requirements – if needed – on the basis of supporting data, MEP and first vice-president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness confirmed earlier today.

The commission moved to provide clarification on the issue, following a written question from McGuinness.

The MEP asked if safety devices such as quad bars and quad guards, which are designed to protect the quad bike operator in the event of an overturn, require CE marking before being placed on the market within the EU.

The Midlands-North-West representative also asked if the commission would introduce an obligation on manufacturers of quad bikes to have safety devices installed – and possibly retrofitted – on such vehicles if anti-roll bars are proven to be beneficial.

Response

Commenting afterwards, McGuinness said: “In response to my questions, the commission has confirmed that two or three-wheel motor vehicles – not intended to travel on public roads and not intended for competitions – are subject to mandatory essential health and safety requirements under the Machinery Directive for the risks of rolling over.

“When such vehicles are used on public roads, they fall under the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 and its delegated act – Regulation (EU) No 3/2014(4) – which set out the requirements for roll-over protection for category L7e-B2 (the side-by-side buggy) only, meaning they must have roll bars.

However, vehicles that are to be approved as agricultural or forestry vehicles, are subject to Regulation (EU) No 167/2013, without the roll bar requirement.

The MEP noted that the commission does not currently have data suggesting the rules should be expanded to cover farm use of such vehicles in its response. However, it did state that it “will monitor this niche market and will consider adapting relevant regulatory requirements, if needed, on the basis of supporting data”.

“That is to be welcomed, as there are very serious concerns over the safety of these vehicles on farms and any measures that might increase safety is worthwhile – particularly in the light of comments from the Mayo coroner, Patrick O’Connor, who suggested that anti-roll bars should be fitted as standard on quad bikes,” said McGuinness.

Retrofitting

On a voluntary basis, vehicle owners can retrofit their vehicles with anti-roll bars. Retrofitting falls under the competence of the member state in which the vehicle is registered, McGuinness added.

The commission further stated that the Machinery Directive prescribes CE marking requirements for roll-over protective structures, classified as safety components.

It is the manufacturers’ responsibility to CE mark such products through a self-certification procedure. The commission described this as a non-onerous process.

McGuinness said that she would let the European Commission know of the concerns and the recommendations of the Mayo Coroners Court.

‘Unacceptably high’

The issue of quad bike safety comes as Teagasc confirmed that the number of farm accidents has increased by 31% in the last 10 years. In the five years up to 2017, over 2,800 farm accidents occurred, many involving livestock and most happening in and around the farmyard.

Also Read: Number of farm accidents jumps by over 30% in the last 10 years

“These figures are unacceptably high and we need to do everything we can to tackle farm safety, including improving the safety of machines used on farm, where necessary,” McGuinness underlined.

Concluding, the MEP said that the European Parliament will debate the unacceptably high level of farm accidents in the coming weeks.

“I have raised this as a matter of real concern and many of my colleagues from other member states are also deeply concerned about the level of farm accidents – many fatal – which occur on our farms,” she concluded.