Two thirds of farmers do not wear a helmet when riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATVs) due to ‘feeling foolish’ or believing they are not travelling ‘fast enough’, a new survey has revealed.
Despite 63.5 per cent of respondents stating they owned a helmet, only a third reported wearing one frequently or always in the study carried out by Dr Amy Irwin and Jana Mihulkova from the University of Aberdeen.
Dr Irwin’s report highlighted several factors including personal perceptions and barriers preventing farmers wearing helmets, such as hearing impairment, discomfort, feeling ’stupid’ if no-one else is wearing one or being in a rush.
Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager, said while most farm workers surveyed appreciated the importance of personal protective equipment such as helmets, there was still a lack of ‘real acceptance’ that wearing a helmet when operating an ATV is vital in preventing life-changing or life-ending incidents.
“From April 2017 until March 2020, six people lost their lives as a result of ATV incidents on farms in Great Britain,” Ms Berkeley said.
“In any ATV related incident, often the tragic outcome could have been prevented if the operator had worn head protection.
“If you are using an ATV on a farm you should consider safety controls when purchasing the vehicle and undertake adequate training prior to using it.
“A helmet should be the last but vital line of protection in terms of the hierarchy of control.
“Quads bikes themselves are not dangerous – it is the way they are handled so it is just staggering that farmers still are not using their heads when riding ATVs.”
James Dalke, Bombardier Recreational Products commercial manager UK and Ireland, said firms like his had a role to play in upholding safety standards and offering training.
“The fact that people have a helmet and do not wear it and the reasons why they do not, reflects a mindset that we are aiming to change through education, as ATVs are the vehicles of choice for farm workers to carry out daily tasks,” Mr Dalke said.