Most people assume that ATVs are safe and stable vehicles, but a recent Colorado worker safety alert sheds light on the dangers that these vehicles can pose if not used correctly. Focusing on the alarming rise in serious and fatal accidents involving ATVs in the workplace, the warning addresses reasons why people don’t take the danger of these vehicles seriously. It also offers guidelines by which employers can improve the safety of their operations while using ATVs.
One large problem is that both employers and employees assume that just because someone is licensed to drive a car that they are qualified to operate an ATV in the workplace. The problem with this line of thought is that ATVs are drastically different from cars or other vehicles, and these differences can lead to accidents if the operator isn’t aware of them.
ATVs feature low-pressure tires, a different chassis and suspension system, and simply don’t have the bulk of larger vehicles which helps to keep cars and similar vehicles stable. If overloaded or taken on highly uneven terrain, ATVs can experience weight shifts which will cause the vehicle to tip over and take the rider with it.
Another problem is that because ATVs are usually associated with more recreational uses, many employers don’t see them as “serious” vehicles and tend to let the “cute” and “fun” aspects of the ATVs image skew their perception of exactly how dangerous an ATV can be. Often employees who use ATVs in the workplace will receive little or no instruction on how the small vehicle operates, and will begin using it without any knowledge of how it handles or the limitations that it faces. To make matters worse, they will often use the vehicles without helmets or other safety equipment… explaining the increasing number of fatal accidents that involve ATVs in the workplace.
In its efforts to improve safety on the job, Colorado OSHA recently recommended that an updated Slips Trips Falls Poster should be prominently displayed at all times. A strong safety awareness program alerting every employee to the safety benefits of good housekeeping practices is strongly advocated, too.
Slips, trips, and falls in the work place currently cause 15% of all accidental deaths. Only motor vehicle accidents cause more fatalities. These grim statistics from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have generated enough concern in Colorado that the Colorado OSHA is taking measures to make the workplace a much safer environment.
A main concern is flooring on the job. Floors that become wet are quite hazardous. The problem is bad enough when the moisture is merely spilled water but soaps, chemicals, and other liquids that can be quite slippery elevate the problem considerably. It is imperative that all spills be identified then cleaned up immediately.
Some work environments are wet by nature and precautions in this instance are critical, too. The installation of drainage and grating systems are required in such environments and the use of mats or other raised platforms are mandatory.
Another flooring concern is clutter. Clutter can be anything from boxes and extension cords to poorly placed furniture and equipment. Because an accident can happen at any time, clutter-free floors must be maintained at all times. All spills, whether wet or dry objects, must be cleaned up at once.
The structural integrity of the floor space must be maintained at all times. Loose boards, torn carpets, protruding nails, and splinters can all trigger an accident so attention to these details is very important.
Aisles and passageways can pose problems, too. All aisles must be wide enough for two people to safely pass through. When mechanical equipment is used, ample room is required for safe passage of the machinery as well any workers in the area. All permanent passageways must be clearly identified and exit routes marked. Many of the slips, trips, and falls that occur in the workplace happen when frightened employees all leave the building at once when emergencies arise.
Every employer is required to post a Colorado OSHA 300 form beginning on February 1, 2007. The forms must remain posted in a prominent place until April 30, 2007. Under OSHA regulations, the forms list all work-related accidents and illnesses in the prior year. In this case, that’s all injuries from 2006. The form must be posted in an area where employees will see it. A spot in the employee break room or near the time clock is popular. In addition, a copy of the form must be sent to OSHA for the agency’s annual records.
OSHA compiles national figures on workplace safety from the OSHA 300 forms. In 2005, the last full year for which we have workplace safety statistics, there were 4,214,200 work related accidents. Those incidents resulted in 1,234,700 lost workdays. Even more tragically, 5,702 workers lost their lives in fatal accidents during the year. As surprisingly high as those numbers are, they include only accidents for employees in the private sector. Accidents involving police, firefighters, paramedics and other government or non-profit employees are not even included.
The frequency of certain types of accidents might surprise you. There were 270,890 painful back injuries at work in 2005. Over a half million workers (503,530) suffered sprains, strains or tears in 2005. A total of 255,750 people fell at work.
Most of us think of slips, trips and falls as annoying but not life threatening. Yet, they are one of the most common causes not only of injury, but also of death in the workplace. The second most common type of workplace fatality is the slip, trip or fall. In 2005, 732 people died after a fall at work. Only driving accidents produced more deaths, with 1,258 work-related fatalities.
Colorado is one of 25 states that follow federal OSHA standards for all businesses. A total of 22 states have chosen to establish their own state Occupational and Safety Health Administrations, with names like MIOSHA (for Michigan OSHA) or CAL OSHA (for California OSHA). You might think that employers in those states have an easier time with safety regulations, but you would be wrong. Under federal law, these state agencies must have rules at least as strict as the federal OSHA.
“Today’s awards recall the imperative that businesses and the workforce system team up with their region’s community colleges to ensure that workers are armed with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.
DeRocco was speaking of a recent grant of more than $2 million to a Connecticut community college for training highly skilled workers.
According to Assistant Secretary Emily Stover DeRocco, “Community colleges are closely tied to the areas they serve, and they have proven themselves adept at responding to the regional workforce demands of numerous industries.”
Under the Connecticut Dept. of Labor grant, $2,174,000 will go to the Manchester Community College to train workers in the healthcare industry. Located in Manchester, Connecticut, the school has a history of training highly skilled workers and a solid academic reputation.
Health care is currently the largest industry in the U.S., and it is still growing. The demand for millions of new healthcare workers in the next decades continues to grow. Currently, the industry employs about 13.5 million workers, as well as providing about a half million jobs for the self-employed.
Eight of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are in the healthcare industry. About 19% of the new jobs created by 2014 will be in the healthcare industry. This is more than any other single market sector. Most healthcare jobs require less than 4 years of college.
The U.S. Dept. of Labor grants are part of over $125 million for 72 community colleges in 34 states awarded under the President’s Community-based Job Training Grants initiative. The program to train workers in healthcare, energy, construction and other high-demand fields was introduced by President George W. Bush in his 2004 state of the Union Address .The community college’s ability to equip workers with the skills that are most in demand is crucial to our nation’s success.
Two Colorado area community colleges have $2.5 million to spend on worker training. The grants, from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, are to train highly skilled workers for the 21st century. The Colorado community colleges were recently awarded coveted federal grants totaling almost $2.5 million.
According to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, “Community colleges are vital partners in educating and preparing workers for good jobs in their local area.”
Schools receiving the Colorado Dept. of Labor grants include Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado. The school received $ 998,453 for a new healthcare training program. The second award, of more than $1 million, went to Trinidad State Junior College. The Trinidad, Colorado school received $1,496,673 to train works in the construction and energy industries.
The Colorado Dept. of Labor grants are awarded based on a competition between 429 schools to train highly skilled workers. The grants are just two of more than 100 grants to community colleges and government agencies in a program across the U.S. to train workers for high-demand occupations, including construction, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and energy.
“The $125 million these 72 community college partnerships will receive under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative is going to help workers succeed in careers in health care, advanced manufacturing and other growing industries,” said U. S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
The purpose of the U.S. Labor Dept. grants is to increase worker skills in the area, especially in high-demand areas such as healthcare. So far, more than 104 grants, including the Colorado Dept. of Labor grants, have been made since the program’s inception in 2005. Highly skilled workers can enter growing industries and contribute to economic success. The community college’s ability to equip workers with the skills that are most in demand is crucial to our nation’s success.