A New Mexico Worker Safety alert was recently issued by New Mexico OSHA in response to the dangers posed by All-Terrain Vehicles in the workplace. All-Terrain Vehicles, also known as ATVs, are growing in popularity in the workplace, and as a result, injuries are increasing.
Although ATVs may look sporty and seem fun to drive, they actually are prone to accidents such as roll-overs. These accidents can lead to severe injuries and, in some cases, death. Employers who utilize ATVs in their workplaces need to make certain employees follow all the necessary safety procedures.
For instance, employees should be trained on the proper operation of an ATV before driving the vehicle. All drivers should wear helmets to protect their heads in case of an accident. Moreover, the guidelines issued by the manufacturer for the safe operation of the vehicle should be followed.
Most injuries that are the result of ATV accidents happen while the vehicles are being used recreationally. As more businesses start to utilize ATVs, though, the number of accidents that happen in the workplace is growing. ATVs are used in industries such as facilities management, construction, agriculture, and law enforcement.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report stating that in 1982, deaths caused by ATV accidents totaled 29. In 2004, the number of deaths caused by ATV accidents rose to 470. In the last decade, more than 800,000 ATV-related injuries were reported. These numbers only reflect injuries that happened while the ATVs were being used recreationally.
Using ATVs in the workplace poses similar risks. Accidents involving ATVs used in the workplace have resulted in over 100 deaths in the last ten years. The alert issued by New Mexico OSHA contains guidelines for ATV usage. These guidelines are for any vehicle that is motorized and is operated by a driver who straddles the seat while steering with handlebars.
New Mexico worker safety numbers show that more than a half-million employees – 503,350, to be precise – suffered from tears, sprains and strains. Painful back injuries accounted for 278,890 injuries. And 255,750 people fell while on the job. OSHA is in charge of overseeing the safety of New Mexico workplaces.
Now is the time to face the issue of workplace safety. It’s a crucial one. In 2005 alone, 5,702 employees died in work-related accidents. In all, there were 4,214,200 on-the-job accidents resulting in 1,234,700 lost workdays. That’s right, more than 1.2 million workdays lost to accidents in the workplace around the U.S.
The U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics has figures showing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, investigates millions of workplace related injuries every year nationwide and in New Mexico.
Nationwide, the statistics are dramatic. Take 2005, the last year for which complete safety statistics are available. Nationwide, that year, more than 4.2 million accidents occurred on the job. The accidents resulted in more than 1.2 million lost days of work. And 5,702 employees died on the job – a tragic and unnecessary toll.
As the New Mexico statistics demonstrate, falls on the job account for a large number of accidents. In fact, slips, trips, and falls – often thought of as a mere annoyance – are a very common cause of workplace deaths. They represent the second most deadly form of accidents on the job, following only driving accidents. Falls took 732 lives in 2005, more than half the number of driving deaths, which accounted for 1,258 fatalities.
To promote workplace education, OSHA is making available what it calls the Workplace Safety Pack. It comes in the form of simple information for avoiding serious and painful injuries on the job. Featured are three posters – Workstation Safety Tips, Lifting Safely, and Slips, Trips and Falls. And the package includes “Workplace Ergonomics”.
The chilling workplace statistics represent only the private sector. They do not include numbers for jobs in the non-profit arena, or in public jobs, including high-risk professions like firefighting, law enforcement, and paramedical work.
A recent New Mexico OSHA alert lets employers everywhere know that accidents in the workplace involving All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are increasing. In some cases, these accidents resulted in fatalities. Although most ATV accidents happen when the vehicles are used for recreational use, more accidents are happening in the workplace. ATVs are becoming more prevalent in the workplace, especially in industries such as law enforcement, construction, agriculture, and facilities management.
As more ATVs appear in the workplace, more accidents happen, including an increasing number of fatalities. During a 9-year time span, 113 people were killed in workplace accidents involving ATVs. When the total number of non-fatal accidents was added to this figure, the number of accidents for this 9-year period was 1625.
Although ATVs look sporty with their fat tires, they really aren’t easy to drive. They do not handle like cars and bicycles, and when used on an incline or turned sharply, they can flip over. Another problem with ATVs arises when the driver overloads it. ATVs have limited capacities when it comes to how much equipment or luggage they can carry safely. If the driver overloads the ATV, the chance of the vehicles becoming unstable on an incline increases.
To prevent injuries, workers should not overload the vehicle with either equipment or passengers. ATVs are designed for single riders, so passengers should not be allowed on the vehicles. Moreover, workers need to wear helmets to protect themselves.
You may wonder: Are ATV accidents on the rise in general? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 1982, there were 29 fatalities due to ATV accidents. In 2004, the number rose to 470. More than 800,000 injuries due to ATV accidents were reported during the last 10 years. These numbers only reflect the injuries that occurred during recreational use of ATVs.
Employers need to be aware of a recent New Mexico OSHA Alert concerning two popular types of chainsaws. These chainsaws are often used in industries such as landscaping, lumbering, and construction and have been recalled for safety reasons. When the chainsaws are used heavily, the front plastic handle may break. When this handle breaks, the user can lose control of the saw and suffer injuries as a result. Workers should stop using these chainsaws immediately to avoid injury.
The New Mexico OSHA Alert applies to Troy-Bilt and Craftsman chainsaws. The chainsaws affected by this recall have two-cycle engines that run on gasoline and range from 46cc to 55cc in size. The Troy-Bilt and Craftsman chainsaws have cutting blades of either 18 inches or 20 inches. In the case of Troy-Bilt, four models are impacted by this recall. In the case of Craftsman, the “Incredi-Pull” model is part of this recall. The “Incredi-Pull” has an 18-inch cutting blade and a two-cycle 55cc gas engine.
Employers should make certain that employees stop using these chainsaws until the plastic handles are replaced. To receive a free safety kit that contains a replacement handle along with installation instructions, employers should contact either OSHA or the manufacturer of their chainsaw.
Injuries have been reported to OSHA as a result of the handles breaking. In some cases, lacerations occurred. Also reported to OSHA were bruises, sprains, and burns. To prevent these injuries, workers should discontinue using the chainsaws.
Due to the injuries suffered, the chainsaws have been voluntarily recalled by their manufacturers in conjunction with OSHA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC works to prevent the public from being seriously injured by any of the over 15,000 types of products that fall under its jurisdiction. The recall of these chainsaws is an example of how this agency works to protect consumers.
New Mexico worker safety is on the mind of the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, also known as MSHA. This agency has a new campaign aimed at improving public safety by telling workers, along with bikers, rock hounds, hikers, and swimmers to “Stay Out — Stay Alive.”
The concern of MSHA, and the reason for the campaign, is to protect people from mine accidents. According to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States.” He added, “Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
Both workers and people who love the outdoors may not realize the hazards posed by mines. Many people only associate mine accidents with collapses shown on the news. But most mine accidents aren’t the collapses that are publicized. Instead, the majority of mine accidents happen to outdoor recreation enthusiasts, children, and even workers in industries other than mining.
The numbers tell the story. Since 1999, over 200 people have died due to accidents involving mines. Both active and abandoned mines are a hazard. Sadly, sometimes children wander into mines to play and are injured. In other cases, workers from industries other than mining have fallen into mine shafts or encountered other hazards on mine property.
These accidents often occur because people don’t realize the hazards posed by mines. Moreover, quarries filled with water may look safe, but in fact, they can be dangerous. Not only do these quarries have rock ledges that are unstable and slopes that may be slippery, in some cases, old machinery can lurk under the water.
New Mexico worker safety should be important to all employers. For that reason, the “Stay Out — Stay Alive” campaign should help protect not only workers but other citizens as well.