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Arkansas Worker Safety and ATVs

Posted by Tamara

Many Arkansas workers wonder why the employer instructs them never to stand on an ATV. The reason is that standing shifts the weight of the ATV and can cause it to overturn. When an ATV overturns, serious, possibly fatal head injuries can result.

Though ATVs or All Terrain Vehicles seem like innocent, fun toys, they can be dangerous when improperly handled. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries soared to a new peak of 136,100, and deaths jumped from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004. ATVs are being used more and more, especially in construction, landscaping and agriculture. Unfortunately, as usage increases, so do the accidents.

Arkansas employers are increasingly using ATVs in business. By following certain safety guidelines and methods, though, ATV accidents can be prevented.

First, let’s address why standing in an ATV can cause it to overturn. Even though the ATV has four tires, it does not balance on four points. The rear axle of an ATV is designed to pivot to provide better maneuverability. This increased maneuverability also means that the ATV balances on three points instead of four. Standing dramatically shifts the weight and therefore the balance of the vehicle. The three-point balance makes the ATV less stable on uneven ground and hilly terrain, too, which is where ATVs are normally used.

That’s why proper training for operators is so important. The employee must be trained to handle the ATV safely. Helmets, seatbelts and other safety gear must be worn at all times. No ATV operator should ever stand up in the vehicle, and there should only be one person in the ATV, the driver.

Additional people or extra equipment or increasing the cargo space can all add weight and destabilize an ATV. Employers must be made aware that any modifications other than those suggested by the manufacturer can create problems and put employees at risk for injury and even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirms that many ATV fatalities were a direct result of modifications other than those recommended by the manufacturer.


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