As a management team of a large estate we are thinking of purchasing quad bikes to help with work and security, but I remain sceptical about their safety. How safe are quad bikes? Should we look at some other form of transport?

There have been a number of high-profile incidents recently highlighted by the press. Tragically, one involved the death of a young girl.
Quad bikes remain one of the best means of transport over rough terrain. They are ideal in parkland and on golf courses, where speed is needed to carry out security checks and race to reported incidents such as vandalism, fires or accidents. Choose the right type of quad bike — a utility quad rather than a sports quad — and it can double as a workhorse to tow trailers, carry sacks of seeds or fertiliser, and can even be used with grass-cutting equipment and sprayers.
Whatever you use a quad for, and wherever you use it, one thing is clear: quad bikes must be used responsibly. That means training for those who are going to ride them. Under the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) there is a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate training and to ensure that only employees who have received training in their safe use are permitted to ride ATVs.
Details of suitable courses should be available from your ATV dealer, the manufacturer or Lantra.
Training is also available at many of the land-based colleges around the country and will include pre-start checks, driving the vehicle, route planning, carrying loads, towing and emergency procedures. Road use will also be discussed. It is worth noting that on-road use of ATVs requires not only road-registration of the vehicle — in many instances it will also require special tyres. The low-pressure tyres giving you the stability and grip on unpaved surfaces may well cause skidding on Tarmac.
There are two golden rules that must never be broken. Firstly, never carry a passenger on a sit-astride ATV unless it has been specifically designed for two. Never carry children under any circumstances.
Secondly, it is vital to wear suitable head protection. The Health & Safety Executive recommends motorcycle helmets that meet BS6658 or UN ECE regulation 22.05, or an ATV helmet or other head protection meeting BS EN 1384 standards. In addition, riders should seriously consider visors or goggles to protect the eyes from flying insects, dust or branches. Non-snag, well-fitting outer clothing, preferably high-visibility, is also a good idea. Gloves and protective boots with good grip and ankle support (EN345-1) should be worn when the operation involves loading and unloading.
As with other items of machinery and equipment, quad bike use requires a risk assessment. Two years ago, a farming company in south-east England was prosecuted for failing to carry out a risk assessment for workers using quad bikes. Several employees used quad bikes without training or helmets. The fine was £2,000.
Your other option is to consider the all-terrain utility vehicles — like the Kubota RTV and Kawasaki Mule. The flatbeds of these vehicles make them suitable for carrying tools and materials. Tipper versions are available for transporting loose materials.
A high-powered machine with four-wheel drive will be the one to get you around rough terrain but if your job mostly demands journeys around flat parkland, you could save money by looking at lower-spec quads or utilities.

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