Safety concerns about quad bikes used on farms are being monitored by the European Commission which will consider adapting relevant regulatory requirements, if needed, on the basis of supporting data, Mairead McGuinness MEP has confirmed.
The Commission moved to provide clarification on the issue, following a written question from the first Vice-President of the European Parliament. MEP McGuinness asked if such safety devices, such as quad bars and quad guards which are designed to protect the quad bike operator in the event of an overturn, require CE marking before being placed on the market within the EU. The Midlands North West MEP also asked if the Commission would introduce an obligation on manufacturers of quad bikes to have safety devices installed and possibly retrofitted on such vehicles if anti-roll bars are proven to be beneficial.
"In response to my questions, the Commission has confirmed that two or three-wheel motor vehicles, not intended to travel on public roads and not intended for competitions, are subject to mandatory essential health and safety requirements under the Machinery Directive for the risks of rolling over.
"When such vehicles are used on public roads, they fall under the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 and its delegated act — Regulation (EU) No 3/2014 - which set out the requirements for roll over protection for category L7e-B2 (the side-by-side buggy) only, meaning they must have roll bars. However, vehicles that are to be approved as agricultural or forestry vehicles, are subject to Regulation (EU) No 167/2013, without the roll bar requirement.
"While the Commission said it does not have data at present that would suggest the rules should be expanded to cover farm use of such vehicles, in its response, it stated that it "will monitor this niche market and will consider adapting relevant regulatory requirements, if needed, on the basis of supporting data". That is to be welcomed as there are very serious concerns over the safety of these vehicles on farms and any measures that might increase safety is worthwhile, particularly in the light of comments from the Mayo Coroner Patrick O'Connor, who suggested that anti-roll-bars should be fitted as standard on quad bikes, " said McGuinness.
On a voluntary basis, vehicle owners can retrofit their vehicles with anti-roll bars. Retrofitting falls under the competence of the Member State in which the vehicle is registered, McGuinness added.
The Commission further stated that the Machinery Directive prescribes CE marking requirements for roll over protective structures, classified as safety components. It is the manufacturers' responsibility to CE mark such products through a self-certification procedure. The Commission described this as a non-onerous process.
MEP McGuinness said that she would let the EU Commission know of the concerns and the recommendations of the Mayo Coroners Court.
The issue of quad bike safety comes as Teagasc confirmed that the number of farm accidents has increased by 31 percent in the last ten years. In the five years up to 2017, over 2,800 farm accidents occurred, many involving livestock and most happening in and around the farmyard.
"These figures are unacceptably high and we need to do everything we can to tackle farm safety, including improving the safety of machines used on farm, where necessary," McGuinness underlined.
The MEP added that the European Parliament will debate the unacceptably high level of farm accidents in the coming weeks. "I have raised this as a matter of real concern and many of my colleagues from other member states are also deeply concerned about the level of farm accidents, many fatal, which occur on our farms.