Much has been said and penned on quad bike safety as a mode of on-farm transport, for tasks such as checking crops, spraying fence lines, moving livestock, checking lambing ewes or cows calving or even spot spraying invasive weeds.

According to Farmsafe Australia just over three-quarters of agricultural fatalities between 2010 and 2014 involved farm vehicles and in 2016 quad bikes accounted for the highest number of deaths and injuries overall.

As such Farmsafe encourages the following safety principles (1) :

  • Is the quad the most appropriate vehicle to do the job? A farm ute or Side-by-Side Vehicle can carry loads and passengers safely. Alternatively, a tractor or two-wheel motorcycle may be more appropriate depending on the task(s) to be undertaken;
  • A suitably tested crush protection device (CPD) should be fitted to the quad bike;
  • Always keep the quad well maintained and tyres correctly inflated according to manufacturers’ recommendations;
  • DO NOT allow riders under 16 years old to operate a quad of any engine size (kids and quads are a fatal mix). Allegedly “child appropriate quads” also kill by crush/asphyxiation and are present in Australian coronial records;
  • DO NOT carry passengers;
  • DO NOT carry or tow loads (including spray tanks and trailers). Loads make an unstable vehicle that is “prone to rollover” even more unstable. This adds to the risk of rollover and fatal crush injuries or asphyxiation; and,

When riding a quad always wear a helmet.

In tandem with the Farmsafe safety principles above, ensure all quad bike users have the appropriate knowledge, training and skills to operate the bikes safely and the workplace has the appropriate emergency facilities (First Aid) and emergency plans in place in case of a serious incident. Also remember to keep a record of risk assessments identifying potential hazards and the appropriate controls and safe systems of work.
If you use a quad bike to spot spray weeds, important points to consider:
1. What is the maximum weight capacity (MWC) of the quad bike?
Operator manuals detail this specification, for example looking at a Honda TRX 250TM 2009 (250cc) Operators Manual, the MWC is listed as 175kg, and for the Honda TRX500FM 2013 is listed as 220 kg.
Assuming 100 kg of rider and accessories, the 250cc quad bike would allow up to a spray pack and water mass of 75 kgs on the bike, and 120 kg for the 500cc model. Due to stability /braking limits, the manufacturers recommend maximum weight limits to be carried on the front and rear carry racks. For larger bikes (500cc plus) these weights are generally limited to 45 kg front/85 kg rear.
2. Issues related to spray pack and water volume
Be careful to avoid overloading and instability issues. As such a 500cc bike with 85 kg rear carry case limit can have up to about 70 litres of spray with a sprayer weight of up to 15 kgs. Silvan (Rakpak 70 L) and C-Dax (Spray Rider 50 or 80 L) for example, manufacture baffled tanks to minimise shifting water volumes in the tank and a wraparound type tank design that centers the tank weight whilst maintaining a lower center of gravity than your standard rectangular shaped tank, note can only fill the 80 l C-Dax tank to 71.5 litres given its 13.5 kg weight).
Ensure these units are well secured to the carry case and don’t obstruct the riders ease of dismount from the bike. If mounting an additional 20 litre tank to the front carry case, ensure it doesn’t impede line of sight.
Rakpak 70 l ex Silvan 3. Pump size, spray guns and spray nozzles

Cheaper model spray packs will come with pumps with low pressure ratings and smaller output volumes and limit spray line length, given a pressure drop of about 0.4 bar for a six-metre length of 8 mm hose. Also, if you ever want to mount two opposing boomless noz