Alf is fast coming to the conclusion that coroners should make findings about how people died in the cases referred to them – full stop.
But please spare us the recommendations.
Authorities elsewhere can study a coroner’s report and draw their own conclusions about what lessons are to be learned from a sudden death.
But coroners – it seems – are attention-seekers.
They like to pepper their reports with advice and recommendations on how deaths could be avoided, and to give officials somewhere a kick up the arse for not having done this.
It’s sure to attract the attention of the media and their headline writers.
But some of that advice looks downright dodgy to Alf.
A case in question has resulted in the Department of Labour rejecting a coroner’s call that roll bars and lap belts on all quad bikes could help save lives.
The coroner’s advice was given after he had looked into the death of a Filipino beekeeper from Masterton, just down the road from Eketahuna.
This bloke died from a massive skull fracture days after he was “catapulted” off a quad bike he was riding at work in August 2008.
Obviously it takes time for a coroner to get around to telling us what happened and to dish out advice on what must be done to ensure this sort of thing can never happens again.
In his findings on the death, Wellington Coroner Ian Smith said accidents involving quad bikes had concerned coroners for a long time – about 120 had been killed on them in the past 10 years.
Mr Smith said he was frustrated by the failure of authorities to take up the recommendations coroners “consistently” made.
He recommended the Labour and Transport ministers undertake an immediate investigation to consider the mandatory use of helmets, roll bars and lap belts on all quad bikes.
Alf often feels the urge to rail against the failings of our swarms of departmental manadarins and poo-bahs.
But in the this case he reckons maybe the mandarins and poo-bahs are doing the right thing by not requiring quad bike operators to strap themselves in.
… Department of Labour national support manager Mike Munnelly said that while it supported compulsory helmet wearing, to ride a quad bike safely it was absolutely necessary to be able to stand up and to shift body weight for balance – or “active riding”.
“A lap belt or restraining system makes it extremely difficult for a rider to make these safety corrections and exposes them to increased danger,” Mr Munnelly said.
“The science supporting roll-over protection bars being fitted to quad bikes is far from complete. If the science does prove the value of these bars then the department will support their introduction.”
It’s not as if the department is doing nothing.
It launched a quad bike safety campaign in November to spread the word that riders must be trained and experienced enough to do the job, children should not ride adult quad bikes, helmets should be worn and the right right vehicle should be chosen for a job.
If quad bike operators don’t want to follow that advice – well, what happens to them is a consequence of their own decisions.
And 120 deaths in 10 years workss out at 12 a year. Or one a month.
Alf sees no cause for dismay in that figure.
Moreover, he knows from experience that being belted in could be seriously damaging to your health.
When a quad bike starts to roll and the rider knows it’s time to bail out, then he had better bail out NOW.
Buggering around undoing a lap belt could be a killer.
But Alf would applaud if coroners set an example. And belted up.