ATV injuries and deaths linked with speed and terrain
Wednesday 28 October 1998
Speed and terrain are the major factors in accidents involving all terrain vehicles (ATVs) according to the results of a just released survey.
Eighty percent of fatalities in the agricultural sector involve either ATVs or tractors. In the last three years, 11 people have been killed riding ATVs with four deaths in the year ending June 30 1998.
Between August 1995 and June 1996 the Department of Labours Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) and Federated Farmers conducted a joint national project to gather information on the safe use of all terrain vehicles.
ATVs have become an integral part of the farming industry but, unfortunately, there are many unanswered questions as to how farmers and recreationalists alike can use ATVs safely.
OSH Business Advisor, Charles Pitt, said the project was an attempt to find answers by talking to practical people who used ATVs in their daily lives.
"As a first step towards developing a best practice guideline for using ATVs safely we went to the main users of ATVs, the farmers, to gather their hands-on knowledge of the dangers and pitfalls of using what can be very dangerous machines," said Mr Pitt.
"We have had excellent feedback and their ideas will now be used as a resource for producing guidelines for using ATVs."
The key messages to emerge were that speed and terrain were the major factors in accidents, Mr Pitt said.
Two views also stood out, one, the need for some form of training for novices and secondly the need for restrictions on the use of ATVs by young people.
Another important finding was that respondents were equally divided over the use of helmets.
Some of the surveys key findings were:
More employees and family members are recorded as users of ATVs than farmers.
Of the 377 farmers involved in the ATV questionnaire, 92.5 percent described themselves as being dairy, sheep, or a mixture of these.
Some 77 percent of farms were described as being other than flat land, i.e. steep, rolling, etc.
The majority of those questioned were satisfied with the ATV design but a large number of suggestions were made on improvements. Of those questioned, 54 percent had no safety devices fitted to the ATV; 28.5 percent had roll-bars fitted; the remaining 17.5 percent had bull-bars or side-frames fitted.
The average weekly use of the ATV was calculated to be 11 hours per week. The most common implements used were trailers, spray units and spreaders.
The majority of ATV owners had received an instruction manual on the safe use of ATVs and information on maintaining ATVs in safe working condition. However, a significant number said they had received none of the above.
Some 90 percent said they had provided information to employees using ATVs.
72 percent of farmers said they were self taught or had no training prior to general use of an ATV. Some 52 percent of employees did not receive any training or were self taught; 33 percent of family members were either self taught or did not receive any training; and 60 percent of visitors to farms did not receive any training prior to using an ATV.
A huge majority, 87 percent, stated that young people should be able to use ATVs, but restrictions should apply. Only 2.5 percent opposed young people using ATVs altogether.
The most common error made by ATV operators was, in general, travelling too fast for the conditions and at too high a speed in general. The solution suggested was a need for greater levels of training in the form of hands-on skill courses and an awareness of the ATV limitations.
Some 92.5 percent of respondents stated they carried passengers and made suggestions on the limiting factors. Only 7.5 percent said passengers should not be carried at all. The most common suggestion for safely carrying passengers related to experienced operators who were able to assess the terrain and conditions, with passengers not being carried on steep terrain. m/f...
Some 51 percent of respondents stated they were aware of an accident and gave details of the event. Some 49 percent suggested steps for reducing the likelihood of an accident occurring.
The most common suggestion related to:
- Reducing speed and riding to the conditions;
- Developing knowledge and experience through training and skill courses; and
- Fitting roll bars or safety frames to ATVs.
The majority of respondents to the question on personal protective equipment and safety devices favoured having roll-bars or safety-frames fitted.
Just under half said that good footwear or safety footwear should be worn.
There was approximately an equal number who stated they favoured the use of helmets, as who stated they wouldnt wear a helmet.
The majority of those interviewed stated the best way to get ATV operators to use personal protective equipment was through seminars and training courses.
Those who made comment on the type of safety document to be prepared on the use of ATVs, preferred the ATV document to be a code of practice, either approved or not approved.
A significant number stated the information should be in video form, or in a booklet with photos and diagrams.
Those making comment wanted the content to include both safety and maintenance procedures. They wanted general instruction on how to safely use an ATV, and a general training standard. They would also like information on accident case histories.
Information on riding techniques, covering all types of terrain and conditions, along with information on loading and stability of ATVs, was also suggested.
Some 218 of those involved in the project would like the opportunity to make future comment on any future draft document or Standard.