A FIVE star safety rating for quad bikes, about to be proposed by safety experts, has been rejected as inappropriate by the automotive industry's peak body.
The release of a final report on the University of NSW (UNSW) Quad Bike Performance project is believed to recommend a star safety rating system, similar to that for cars.
But Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber said while he had not seen the final report, a rating system would not be appropriate.
"Through previous engagement with the research team, we are aware that a star rating was under consideration," Mr Weber said.
"We consider that the current state of knowledge of ATV/SSV/ROV testing (both crash testing and dynamic handling testing) does not have a sufficient level of correlation with real world performance to be used for a star rating system."
A seven year-old boy died on a property, near Walgett, NSW last month, after a quad bike rolled on top of him.
It was the second fatality in Australia this year; the first was in Tasmania.
Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety director Dr Tony Lower said he expected the report would be released within the next couple of months.
"I think it will provide some much needed information to take things forward," Dr Lower said.
Last year there were 12 on-farm deaths from quad bikes, the leading cause of non-intentional injury deaths on Australian farms.
Quads were involved in more than 50 per cent of non-fatal incidents.
"The sad thing is it doesn't appear to be coming down," Dr Lower said
The message 'kids and quads don't mix' was starting to get through, with a significant increase in the use of side-by-side vehicles and crush protection.
"But if the agricultural community wants children to assist and help around the farm, to be the next generation of farmers, you have to put them on a suitably sized two-wheeler," Dr Lower said.
"The biggest issue is that two-wheelers don't crush and asphyxiate people."
It was likely the report would be considered by all State workplace safety authorities before further action was taken, a NSW WorkCover spokesman said.
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) president Peter Tuohey said the proposed five star rating system appeared to be a step in the right direction.
"Our position is there should not be mandatory roll over protection, it's about education and making sure people do the right thing," Mr Tuohey said.
"Most farmers are reasonably responsible, when it comes to safety issues, but every little bit helps.
"I think it would be a great idea, people are realising we need to do a bit more, as there are still too many quad bike accidents."
A spokeswoman for WorkSafe Victoria, Kate Fawcett, said employers were responsible for providing and maintaining a safe workplace for their employees.
"As with any other employer, farmers need to ensure that the risks associated with the use of any machinery or equipment – such as quad bikes – are controlled or minimised to prevent employees being injured," Ms Fawcett said.
"Farmers should first consider if quad bikes were the most appropriate vehicle for the task or whether another vehicle, such as a tractor, ute or motorbike may be a safer option."
The Victorian Workcover Authority would continue to monitor research around the effectiveness of quad bike crush protection devices, in preventing injuries and fatalities from roll-overs, she said.
Meanwhile, a Benalla grazier has called for parents of children who are killed or injured in accidents to be prosecuted.
Angus McMillan said under-16 year-olds should not be riding quad bikes, but this was being constantly ignored.
"End the temptation – sometimes the word 'no' means absolutely nothing," Mr McMillan said.
While it might appear callous for the police to be issuing a summons after a death, it was the only way to get the message across, he said.
"It would only go to court once, twice if someone hadn't seen the original report, but after the second time I don't think there would be a third."
He said young people were susceptible to using quad bikes.
"There's nothing more tempting than for a small one to come out of the gate and jump on – they might open the throttle just that little bit, or do something unsafe, and they are history."
Quad bike deaths among people who were not raised on farms also needed to be examined – with hobby farmers sometimes seeing the vehicles as "amusing toys".
Quad bike safety courses were also being run, through the National Centre for Dairy Education in Shepparton, Warragul and Terang.