A quad bike helmet that really, truly works for dairy farmers

HQHelmet

This new helmet for quad-bike-riding farmers will save lives because it works. Not just because it’s tough and protective but because it’s not the sort of helmet you rip off as soon as you’re out of sight of the boss.

Most farmers refuse to wear helmets and I can understand why. I’ve tried wearing a road bike helmet (in line with official expectations) to bring the cows home on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. A road bike protects your head alright – that is, for the few minutes before heat exhaustion sets in.

Road bike helmets are made for riding motor bikes on a road, fast. Not at 2km/hr behind 250 cows, each throwing out the same body heat as a 1500kW hair dryer (I’m not joking, they do).

As a result, we’d decided to wear equestrian helmets compliant with AS/NZS 3838. Designed to protect a rider from a nasty fall at speed, they provide more protection than a pushbike helmet and better ventilation than a motor bike helmet.

Why hadn’t we chosen a helmet rated for agricultural quad bike use, you ask? Because there wasn’t one. New Zealand has developed such a standard – NZS 8600 All Terrain Vehicle Helmets – but, for reasons I can’t fathom, Australia has not adopted it or chosen to follow suit. Australian inspectors will still expect you to wear a road bike helmet, unless you can prove you have done a proper risk assessment.

Despite it all, the Quadbar people have finally designed and made a helmet especially for Australian farmers, the HQ Stockman 2. We were sent a complimentary sample helmet to test on the farm. Suffice to say, Wayne’s old equestrian helmet is gathering dust and we’ll be buying another Stockman.

The helmet is light and comfortable enough to forget you’re wearing it and the ventilation is just as good as the equestrian helmets we’ve been using.

Equestrian helmet (left) vs Stockman (right)

Equestrian helmet (left) vs Stockman (right)

What it has over the equestrian helmets is added protection. The HQ Stockman 2 meets NZS 8600 standard as recommended by both the Queensland and NSW coroners.

The helmet is so strong, it passes the test used to gauge the protectiveness of road bike helmets, although only based on one impact, rather than two, as Quadbar’s Dave Robertson explains:

“The ‘Impact energy attenuation test’ is the same test for the Australian motorcycle (and USA DOT motorcycle) standards however the test is repeated a second time on each location on the helmet for motorcycle helmets,” Mr Robertson said.

“Helmet expert, Dr Terry Smith form California USA, at the Qld coroner’s inquest went to a lot of trouble to explain that the second test is to ensure protection in a case where the ‘head strikes twice in the same location’ and MUST not be interpreted as providing double the protection. The speed impact is the same on both tests and the protection must be below 300g. The level of protection of a motorcycle helmet is in the fact that it can withstand a second impact on the same location on the helmet which is more likely at higher speeds. It (motorcycle helmet) is not tested at a higher speed than NZS 8600 however will most likely withstand multiple impacts.”

If you’re riding a quad on the farm without a helmet, get a Stockman. It’s the sort of helmet you forget to take off and it might just save your neck.

EDIT: A helmet compliant with NZS 8600 called the AgHat came on the market a couple of years ago but we didn’t adopt it at our farm because it had no ventilation.

10 Comments

Filed under Farm, People, Safety

10 responses to “A quad bike helmet that really, truly works for dairy farmers

  1. Nick Renyard

    Where do you get them Marian?

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  2. Jame

    Marion, there has been a helmet of the same design that has been approved for a number of years. When I say similar design it does not have the air vents. Cant think of the name of it but I got my local honda dealer to order 1 in a number of years ago and he has been selling them ever since

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  3. they look like a much better idea……….
    where do you get them…………how much money…………

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  4. James

    Another question , does it cover you legally if there is a accident, I know your horse one would not.

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    • Well, that’s complicated, James.

      I don’t agree with your statement on the equestrian helmet. The law is not prescriptive and there is nothing that says we must wear a certain type of helmet off road.

      What is does say is that you must do what is “reasonably practicable” and in the event of an accident, that’s what we’d need to prove.

      To do that, we’ve done a risk assessment looking at the hazards, the risk and the possible controls.

      As part of that risk assessment, we must show that a control does not introduce new hazards and there’s a strong argument to be had that on-road motorbike helmets introduce several new hazards.

      Apart from being too poorly ventilated to wear in hot conditions at low speed, they limit perception of the environment around you – a big problem when working around animals.

      The bottom line is that I can be confident the well ventilated helmets are not going to make people sick with heat stress and will be worn. I can’t say that about the road bike helmets.

      I’m not a lawyer but after speaking to many experts in the field, I’m really confident a court would consider we had done everything that was reasonably practicable to limit risk to people riding our quads.

      Of course, making wearing helmets compulsory on farm is just one piece of our risk management approach – we do inductions, proper maintenance, observe speed limits, fit our bikes with crush protection devices and don’t use them to carry large, unstable loads.

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  5. Mooooooving at speed with safety...

    I just want one! A bright red one please with blacked out scoops for the air vents…with big bright bold yellow letters down each side “Mooooove on over”

    I can walk around Collins Street in Melbourne wearing it and moooing and faaaaarting at all the people not drinking milk and threaten to udderly distract others if they are drinking their short black coffee’s.

    Like

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