HSE to review outdated quad bike safety laws

The UK government has been forced to review quad bike safety measures, after a Freedom of Information request revealed that the Health and Safety Executive has relied on outdated evidence.

For months, ministers have resisted calls for a change in the law to make new safety devices on quad bikes mandatory, citing evidence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that found they could do more harm than good.

But the HSE has now admitted that the evidence ministers have relied upon dates back to 1999, in neglect of more recent data.  

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Former transport minister Richard Holden, now the Conservative Party chairman, told the House of Commons in June that “research by the Health and Safety Executive on quadbikes used in the workplace is that roll-over protection systems, which includes roll bars, may lead to an increased risk of injury”.

This sentiment was later echoed by Baroness Vere, who told the House of Lords that roll-over protection systems may either prevent the operator from separating from the machine or strike the operator as the machine overturns.

In a significant U-turn, the HSE now says it will review and refresh the evidence base that governs rules regarding quad bike safety, with a particular focus on operator protection devices (OPDs).

It marks a victory for campaigner Christine Lynn, who has campaigned for mandatory safety measures since the death of her husband two-and-a-half years ago.

Mrs Lynn’s husband, Denis, died when his quad bike rolled over at low speed in May 2021.

She explains: “With Australia and Ireland adopting new laws governing quad bike safety, I am amazed the UK government has been refusing to act, because it has been considering outdated research and has not conducted its own review.

“The evidence from Australia and the US shows that new devices to protect quad bike users can, and have, saved lives.

“It is vital we follow the likes of Australia in introducing stricter quad bike safety laws, so accidents like the one my late husband was in do not unnecessarily cost more lives.”

In Australia, which has recently made OPDs mandatory, a study by the University of New South Wales found that half of the quad bike deaths caused by overturning could have been avoided if these safety devices had been fitted.

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