$40,000 fine for no quad bike helmets

A Marlborough farming couple has been fined $40,000 for not wearing helmets while riding their quad bikes.

Phillip Andrew Jones, 33, and Maria Anna Carlson, 30, were spotted by WorkSafe New Zealand inspectors riding a quad bike without helmets on a Havelock farm on multiple occasions since 2012.

The pair were absent from the Blenheim District Court when they were sentenced by Judge Tony Zohrab yesterday.

The court heard the pair, who have a share-milking partnership on the farm, were given multiple warnings by WorkSafe to wear helmets while on their quad bikes, but continued to be non-compliant.

Jones was seen riding the quad bike without a helmet twice in 2012, before a written warning was issued to him in March 2013.

He was again warned about wearing helmets in August last year, before a prohibition notice was issued in October last year, stating workers on the farm had to stop riding quad bikes without helmets.

Despite the notice, Carlson was seen riding the quad bike without a helmet along with two young children who were also not wearing helmets on February 6 this year.

Photographs of Carlson riding the bike without a helmet on January 30 were also taken by an inspector.

When she was interviewed by inspectors Carlson admitted she was riding the bike on both occasions, and that she knew the prohibition order was in place.

"Her reason for not wearing a helmet was because it was a little bit of a hassle," Zohrab said.

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She told them helmets were not necessary because she had identified areas of danger on the farm, he said. Jones walked away when inspectors tried to interview him.

"I think I have to be a bit cautious about the steps taken by Ms Carlson ... I'm sure every farmer in New Zealand would identify themselves as a safe driver ... but still 35 farmers come off their quad bikes every day," Zohrab said.

Wearing helmets on quad bikes was a widely publicised issue because of the serious injuries and deaths caused by quad bikes each year, he said.

"It's not rocket science, people should wear helmets to minimise the risk ... the message needs to go out to employers in the work place that they need to take basically all reasonable steps to prevent injury and potentially death."

Jones faced two charges of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no other person was harmed at work while riding a quad bike.

Carlson faced a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure her own safety by wearing a helmet, and one of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of others.

They were fined $10,000 on each charge.

* Comments on this article are now closed.

 - The Marlborough Express

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