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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘It costs less than £50 to buy a helmet, yet this still seems to be misunderstood’

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), a body across the waters in the UK, has launched a social campaign on ATV safety with the message: #WearItandShareIt.

As part of the industry-wide initiative, the NAAC is inviting farmers and contractors to share imagery of themselves wearing a helmet with the above hashtag.

The objective is to make all operators ask why anyone would put themselves, or their staff, at risk (and break the law) by not wearing a helmet on a sit-astride ATV.

The NAAC is raising the question of why anyone would choose to ride, or deliberately send an employee or family member out on a job with a sit-astride ATV, with no helmet, knowing there is a “real and proven” risk of loss of life, which could easily be reduced by using a helmet.

The UK’s safety watchdog, the HSE, has confirmed if there is an incident and someone was not wearing a helmet, this will almost certainly be “central” to any investigation and could result in enforcement action and possible prosecution.

Similarly, if an inspector sees someone working without a helmet, they will stop the activity and start asking “serious” questions.

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Wearing a helmet applies to the farmer, self-employed workers, employees and any other person using the farm quad. This includes children or farm visitors.

“It is illegal for any ATV to be driven for a farming activity by children under the age of 13,” the NAAC spokesperson stressed.

In the last five years, in the UK alone, ATVs were involved in 15 deaths in agriculture, official figures show.

A spokesperson for the body said: “Many other serious and life-changing incidents are happening all the time. Yet there is still resistance to wearing a helmet.”

Jill comments

Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive, said: “Operators should take pride in wearing a helmet to protect their safety and help minimise the risk of the worst possible news being delivered to their family if an accident occurs.”

“None of us are infallible, and the NAAC wants the industry to get behind us by sharing photos of themselves wearing a helmet under #WearItandShareIt.”

“This is something I really do not understand. It costs less than £50 to buy a helmet, it is a legal requirement at work, and if you do not wear an ATV helmet, you are likely to suffer a serious head injury, or worse, if you come off your quad bike.”

“Yet this still seems to be misunderstood and is regularly flouted across the agricultural industry.”

It is a legal requirement to wear a helmet at work, and if you leave it behind, you are more likely to suffer a serious head injury, or worse, if you come off, she added.

The NAAC is working with Logic helmets to provide a discount to members, removing any final excuses why a helmet would not be worn.

She continued: “Of course, simply wearing a helmet will not keep everyone fully protected, and it is vitally important to ensure that anyone riding an ATV is competent and trained to handle the machine.”

“Training is crucial because it covers essential active riding techniques necessary for the safe operation of the ATV,” Jill added.

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