Posted by Tamara
Several industries and across the country use ATVs in their work. The vehicles are popular for outdoor work, such as landscaping, construction and forestry. The vehicles look like recreational toys, but their innocent appearance hides what can be a dangerous vehicle. The use of ATVs in industry rises every year, and unfortunately, the injuries related to ATVs rise also.
For example in 1982, 29 fatalities occurred from ATV-related accidents. In 2004, the number of fatalities spiked at 470. The figures were reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which stated that the tally of ATV-related injuries reached a new high of 136,100.
Several safety procedures exist to help prevent ATV-related accidents. First, all ATV operators should be trained how to safely operate the vehicle. Second, safety gear, including helmets and seatbelts, must always be worn. Third, the operator should understand that he or she should never stand up while operating the ATV. Standing up and an ATV can cause the weight to shift, which can result in an overturned vehicle.
The important point to understand about ATVs is that they are not the same as cars. Automobiles balance on four points (the tires). Even though ATVs have four tires, the rear axle is designed to pivot to increase maneuverability. This axle makes the ATV balance on three points. Though the pivoting action makes ATVs easier to maneuver, it is also makes them unstable on hills and uneven terrain, which is where ATVs are used the most.
Employers need to be trained in the ATV’s operation as well, specifically about how they are to be used and what modifications can be made. The manufacturer specifies what alterations can be made, and those guidelines must be followed. ATVs usually allow only one passenger and have limited cargo space. Increasing the cargo space or adding another person adds weight and can destabilize the ATV.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) the majority of fatalities from ATVs are due to modifications made beyond the manufacturer’s guidelines.
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