Minister for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English has signed a statutory instrument to introduce new safety measures to help reduce the number of serious quad injuries and fatalities in Ireland.

There will be an obligation on the users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) – more commonly known as quad bikes – to undergo mandatory training, and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when using such vehicles for work purposes. 

Minister English highlighted that in recent years, there has been a number of accidents in farming and other areas of work involving the use of ATVs.

“The number and severity of these incidents has given rise to serious safety concerns, particularly across the farming community,” he said.

“The overall objective of these amending regulations is to reduce the level of death and serious injury associated with ATVs in the workplace by providing specific legal requirements for the wearing of head protection and for operators of ATVs to undergo professional training.

“Over a 10-year period [2009-2018], tractors, ATVs and other vehicles represent 30% of workplace fatalities in the agriculture sector, with ATV fatalities showing a significant increase in recent years, with 11 fatalities attributed to their operation.

“Investigations into the causes of these accidents by the Health and Safety Authority [HSA] have shown that many cases are caused by the lack of training and head protection.”

The introduction of mandatory training and use of PPE for using ATVs was a recommendation of the Farm Safety Task Force.

“The new measures will come into force on November 20, 2023. The two-year lead-in period in relation to the enforcement of these requirements is to allow everyone involved – users, suppliers and retailers – enough time to ensure that all of the necessary measures will be in place for compliance.”

Danger of quad bikes

Martin Heydon, Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety at the Department of Agriculture added:

“ATVs are important tools on many farms. However, they can be dangerous, and the 11 fatalities recorded by the HSA are a stark reminder of that fact.

“It is possible to reduce the risks associated with the operation of ATVs and that starts with appropriate head protection and training.

“I welcome the work of my colleague Minister English to introduce this legislation as it is another important step to drive down the unacceptably high number of fatalities on Irish farms.

“I look forward to working closely with Minister English over the next while, to help farmers who use ATVs prepare for the new requirements, making their farms safer places.”