Think of ATVs and you usually think of weekend fun. But All-Terrain Vehicles are seeing greater use in the workplace, and with that comes a trend that’s anything but fun. ATV accidents and fatalities on the job are increasing.
A Maine OSHA alert says the accidents and fatalities are up partly because of the increased use of the sport vehicles on the job. They’re used in construction, facilities management, police work, and agriculture.
What causes these problems? The ATV is actually tricky to drive, thanks to its combination of handlebars, motorization, and fat, low-pressure tires. It does not handle like a car, or even like a bicycle. It will flip in sharp turns or when going up steep hills or other inclines. And it may easily be overloaded, because it is not designed for heavy loads. Such loads increase their instability. The ATV is designed for use by a driver and no passengers. It is provided with a small front or rear storage rack that carries small amounts of equipment.
OSHA suggests using the manufacturers’ guidelines for the limits on numbers of passengers and weight. It has issued a set of guidelines itself for any vehicle that is motorized, operated off-road, uses low-pressure tires, and has a seat straddled by the driver and handlebars used for steering.
How can operators prevent potentially hazardous situations?
Wear a helmet.
Follow the manufacturer’s weight and passenger limit guides.
Obtain training to operate an ATV
Since 1992, according to OSHA, the death rate by ATV in the workplace has gone up regularly. There were 113 such deaths in 9 years. During those same 9 years there were 1,625 ATV workplace injuries altogether. Some workers were injured severely enough to require that they miss a day or more of work.Deaths during recreational use still exceed those of workplace deaths. From 1982 to 2004, the death rate increased from 29 to 470 yearly. Injuries totaled 136,100. The number of accidents in the workplace may exceed those for recreational use.
The ATV is being used with increasing frequency in construction, facilities management, police work, and farming.
Eyes tingling, fingers in pain, headaches, and physical discomfort, are some of the symptoms of the incorrect use of computers, or hazardous workplaces. Working conditions and office safety should be a concern for every employer.
Now is a good time to consider Maine office safety. Every year on April 25, in Canada and the United States, Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated. On this day, employers acknowledge workers who contribute to the success of the organization.
A good idea could be to celebrate the “office safety day” every spring. Besides gifts, candies, and lunch, which are always welcomed by workers, the employer could set aside a day as an opportunity to check the safety of the office and the employees’ working conditions.
It is not a good idea to procrastinate about a review of Maine office safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, suggests starting now and urges periodic safety examinations.
One item that must be reviewed the wires of equipment, especially computer and network wires. If they are not correctly fitted and sufficiently hidden, the wires can become a hazard for the people who move around them. People can become tangled on them, and can stumble.
Another item that must be included in every review is the walking areas, like corridors, aisles or reception areas. They must be free of wires, of course. But they also must be free of any obstacle, and kept clean, dry, and uncluttered.
It is difficult to know if a periodic review of the safety on the office can eliminate all accidents in the workplace. But what really counts is the effort to keep worker safety in mind. You can start now, marking an annual spring safety review day in the calendar that could be the Administrative Professionals Day or another one. Your team will appreciate your concern and the impact will last the whole year, not only one day.
Maine is an “At-Will State,” which means that if there is no union agreement, an employer may legally fire an employee without notice and without cause. However, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, or mental or physical handicap. All earned wages, including vacation, are due on the next normal payday after termination. There are laws in place to protect employees from unfair treatment such as poor working conditions, discrimination, or unfair or unequal pay.
Maine (ME) employer laws do not require employers to offer their employees any type of fringe benefits such as holidays, sick time, vacation time or even health insurance. Only upon termination must an employer follow its established vacation policies. All employees must be paid at least the state minimum wage, which is $6.50 per hour. There is no training wage or special minimum wage for students. Tipped employees may be paid an hourly rate of half of the minimum wage but overall their tips and hourly rate must equal at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. If not then the employer must make up the difference. Employers are required to provide their employees with an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes after 6 hours of work. It is not required however to give employees bathroom, smoking or coffee breaks. Only people who are working in an executive, administrative or professional capacity may be placed on salary and exempted from overtime. Salaried employees must be paid at least $455.00 per week.
Maine (ME) employer laws do not discourage minors from seeking employment but they do require work permits for anyone under the age of 16. Minors under 17 can not work during school hours and all under age 18 are restricted in the times, number of hours, and occupations which they may be employed.