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Quad bike crashes in Central Otago have increased by 14% in the past five years and have cost the taxpayer more than $1million. Work continues in raising safety awareness. Alexia Johnston reports.

Quad bikes are a common vehicle on the farm.

They are also used for a range of recreational purposes, particularly among people who want to navigate river beds to get to their favourite fishing spots, or to explore the wilderness of New Zealand.

Unfortunately, using a quad bike does not always go to plan.

Between January 1, 2009, and April 2 this year, 81 quad-bike-related incidents within the “workplace” across Otago were reported to WorkSafe New Zealand.

Of those people involved, three died – one each in 2008, 2014 and 2017.

Figures released to The News by ACC show the problem on an even wider scale.

ACC claims across Central Otago have jumped from 28 between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, to 32 for the same period in 2017-18.

Across that five-year period 130 claims were made, valued at $1.07million.

A range of campaigns have been launched across the country to help minimise the risks when riding a quad bike.

The Department of Labour launched a safety campaign in November 2010, which aimed to improve quad-bike use on farms.

As part of that, inspections of farm properties were implemented to check farmers and their employees were using quad bikes safely.

WorkSafe New Zealand recently started a seven-part series, highlighting the ways each of the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalists incorporates health and safety into their work.

Matt McRae, the 2019 Otago-Southland Young Farmer of the Year, shared the health and safety practices he and his brother, Joe, are formulating on the family farm, Eilean Donan, in the Redan Valley.

“For instance, things like wearing helmets on the farm bikes, making sure vehicles and machinery are well maintained and not taking vehicles on to certain steep terrain has always been part of our approach,” Matt said.

“But now we are getting those things .. in farm rules, training and maintenance records and marked on our hazard map. We are also about to take on a full-time member of staff .. so having those processes in place will be very useful.”