Background Globally, quad bikes cause a significant health burden from both injury and premature death. Utilising a quadbike to spray is recognised to be a high-risk task, both for exposure to agrichemicals and increasing the susceptibility to rollover. Despite this, there is minimal research in Australia investigating it.
Aims This pilot study aimed to quantify the extent of quad bike spraying on Victorian farms, identify the most common types of agrichemicals used, and quantify the risks and contributing factors leading to agrichemical exposure or quad bike rollover whilst spraying agrichemicals.
Methods An online survey containing 19 questions was distributed to farmers and farm workers aged 18 – 75 years around Victoria. The questions related to the farm type, quad spraying, incidents whilst spraying, agrichemical use, agrichemical exposure, and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Twelve survey participants who indicated they use quad bikes to spray were interviewed via a semi-structured phone or zoom conversation.
Results The preliminary results (N = 85) suggest that 83.5% of participants indicated they used a quad bike to spray agrichemicals, with 14.1% experiencing an incident whilst spraying on a quad bike. Usage of PPE was low, with only 21.2% always using a mask/respirator and 23.5% always using overalls/coverall. Interview responses suggest that PPE is not considered when spot-spraying as it can be very ‘spur-of-the-moment’. Interview responses confirmed slopes and hitting objects on the ground as common catalysts for an incident.
Conclusion The use of quad bikes to spray continues to be widespread on Victorian farms, despite the inherent and known risk to farmer’s health and safety.
Learning Outcomes The findings of this pilot project will assist in both the review of education material, and farmer engagement to improve safety advice at an individual farm, industry or policy level.
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