Safe use of two-wheeled motorbikes on farms - information sheet

Every year on average there are 10 deaths on farms caused by farms vehicles. Just one lapse of judgement could cost you your health, your livelihood, or even your life.

[image] Motorbike hero

Key points

  • Riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job.
  • Choose the right vehicle for the job.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Don’t allow children to ride adult-sized farm bikes.

The purpose of this information sheet is to help reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities by providing practical guidance on how to manage various two-wheeled motorbike risks.

Many on-farm injuries involve two-wheeled bikes. The common causes are often, not riding to the conditions, not paying attention to the terrain combined with rider inexperience. WorkSafe New Zealand accepts the recommendations in this information sheet as current industry good practice. They will help you comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

Accepted good practice

Only let people with the right training and experience ride a two-wheeled bike. Bike riders must have appropriate riding skills. To check a rider’s skills, talk about safe farm bike riding with them and get them to show their skills under direct supervision. Riders must know about the best routes to take, no-go zones and what jobs can be done by bike compared to other vehicles.

The law

NZTA requires anyone riding a motorbike on the road to have a motorcycle licence (e.g. a Class 6 driver licence) and follow the road rules. You must ride with your light on at all times. Since 1 November 2009, this is a legal requirement. Riders must wear helmets.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s work health and safety law. The Act requires that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. The duties of a PCBU apply to all work activities and places work is carried out on a farm.

Health and safety legal requirements

The primary duties of a PCBU include:

  • providing and maintaining a safe work environment, safe plant and structures and safe systems of work
  • providing any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect everyone from the health and safety risks at work.

Workers must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions or inactions do not harm the health and safety of others
  • co-operate with any reasonable health and safety policy or procedure of the PCBU notified to them and comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PBCU (e.g. using personal protective equipment).

Risks and good practice

Using an incorrect or poorly maintained vehicle for a farming task

  • You can manage farm bike hazards by making sure you’re using the right vehicle for the job. For example, a side-by-side is better for carrying loads, and a ute is better for taking passengers around the farm.
  • Read the owner’s manual and know the controls, especially when riding new or different bikes. Check the bike before riding – especially if you weren’t the last person to use it or you haven’t used it in some time.
  • Follow the regular maintenance programme from the operator’s manual, especially for brakes, footrests and controls.
  • Conduct a pre-ride inspection, every time you mount a motorcycle. Check tyres, light- bulbs, chain-drive, mirrors, brakes, clutch, throttle, fuel and oil.
  • Wash the bike regularly. When cleaning your bike, don’t direct high-pressure hoses at the bearings – this causes mechanical problems.
  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications when deciding whether to carry passengers.
  • Do not tow trailers with a two-wheeled bike unless the bike and trailer are specifically designed to work together.
  • Don’t allow children to ride adult-sized farm bikes.

Loss of control (causing a crash or fall)

  • Always use good riding techniques including smooth clutch operation, gear changing and effective braking.
  • Always wear a helmet while riding a two-wheeled bike. Consider wearing other PPE such as boots, high visibility clothing, goggles and clothing which covers arms and legs.
  • Place feet horizontally on the footrests, with toes pointed straight when moving. Only put them down when you stop.
  • Keep elbows away from the body for strength, and keep arms bent to act as shock absorbers.
  • To help balance the bike, press your knees against the petrol tank.
  • Use balance and body position to influence stability and performance when cornering and riding on a slope.
  • When riding on steep or rough ground you must move and use your bodyweight to stabilise the bike. Lean forward going uphill and lean backwards going downhill.
  • Select the right gear before going up or down hills and use the throttle to avoid wheel spin.
  • Look out for wires, race tapes, irrigation pipes and other objects that you could run into and knock you off the bike.
  • If possible, stop the bike and get off before doing something else. If it is not possible, keep a slow speed and look at the terrain where you can see hazards or obstructions.
  • Don’t carry loads across your knees. Use the front and rear carriers, if provided.

Working alone and in isolation

  • Tell someone where you are working and when you plan to return. Carry a mobile phone or two-way radio if possible. Have regular check-in times. This will speed up a response if you do not return.

Personal factors

  • Never ride a bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Riding on the road

  • Anyone riding a two-wheeled motorbike on the road must have a motorcycle licence (i.e. a Class 6 driver licence) and follow the road rules.
  • Ride with your light on at all times. Since 1 November 2009, this is a legal requirement.