A number of deaths have occurred recently involving ATVs at work in a variety of industries. Most of those tragedies could have been prevented by using safety precautions and by training workers in the use of the vehicles.
In the past 10 years, 100 workers have lost their lives in job-related ATV accidents. Some of the safety precautions include wearing a helmet and following the manufacturer’s recommendation for weight limits. While ATVs are commonly associated with recreation, and are sometimes operated by children, OSHA notes that they are actually tricky to operate and handle much differently than trucks or cars.
An ATV driver lost her life when the vehicle she was operating on the job flipped over on her. Her employer had fitted it with an herbicide sprayer that was 55 pounds over the manufacturer’s recommended limit, according to OSHA.
A Tennessee worker safety alert has followed. Without training and safety precautions, deaths and injuries will increase. OSHA says the All-Terrain Vehicle, usually associated with recreation, is a growing part of the workplace. They’re found, for example, in farming, forestry, police work, and construction to get around quickly and easily on all kinds of ground.
In the Tennessee incident, a worker was driving an ATV uphill on rough terrain. The employer had rigged an herbicide sprayer on the cargo rack at the back of the vehicle, changing its weight distribution. The driver, who was spraying herbicides on weeds at the time, found the wheels of the All-Terrain Vehicle leaving the ground. She tried to stabilize it by standing up, and when that failed, attempted to jump clear. Tragically, she was unable to do so, and the vehicle crushed her.
Recreational use still causes the greatest number of accidents. In the past 10 years, ATV accidents have claimed more than 100 lives, and there were 800,000 injuries during the past decade.
A recent bulletin describes the guidelines for operation and training when ATVs are used on the job.
The local office of OSHA investigated the accident. OSHA said a major reason for the accident was instability because of the changes the employer had made by adding the sprayer. The device weighed 55 pounds more than the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit, and that redistributed the weight over the wheelbase, causing instability, according to OSHA. Most ATVs are not designed to carry much cargo.