All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
ATVs, also known as quad bikes, are used in a variety of work situations, mainly where access to off-road locations is required and a larger 4 x 4 vehicle is not a practicable option. Quad bikes present serious risks to users who do not take appropriate precautions and are not suited to purely recreational applications or by untrained users without appropriate protection.
The Health and Safety Authority issued an information sheet in September 2018 entitled “Safe use of Quad Bikes (ATVs) in Agriculture and Forestry”. Immediately of note are the four case studies provided, all of which involved fatalities.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (SI No. 619 of 2021) were recently introduced and amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 to 2021, introducing specific requirements for operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) when used as part of work practices. This includes the following:
“Regulation 40 (b) of the Principal Regulations is amended by inserting after it the following – “(c) where work involves the operation of an all-terrain vehicle – (i) that the operator of the all-terrain vehicle has successfully completed an all-terrain vehicle safety training course provided by a registered training provider to a QQI Standard or equivalent, (ii) that a risk assessment is conducted in accordance with section 19 of the Act, (iii) that an assessment is conducted in accordance with Regulation 63, and Notice of the making of this Statutory Instrument was published in “Iris Oifigiúil” of 26th November 2021.  3 (iv) that personal protective equipment is provided to and worn by the operator of the all-terrain vehicle in accordance with Regulation 62.”
The nature of ATV riding demands that you wear protective clothing. Knowing what to wear and how to wear it can reduce the chance of an injury and make you more comfortable when you drive the ATV. The following protective gear should be worn when you ride an ATV:
- Helmet: Helmets must be worn. A helmet can help prevent a serious head injury. Deaths have occurred from ATV injuries which could have been prevented by the use of an effective, CE-marked helmet. SI 619 of 2021 requires: “helmet to have a chin strap and to be capable of use with suitable eye protection”
- Eye Protection: Eye protection is a must when working in close proximity to branches of trees, briars, etc. Regular sunglasses do not provide adequate protection. The helmets face shield or a pair of riding goggles will protect your eyes properly
- Gloves: Gloves provide protection when required. Motorcycle gloves provide a good combination of protection and comfort
- Boots: Riders should wear suitable steel toe capped boots.
The ATV Operator’s Manual is an important guide to the safe use of an ATV. It is also critical that drivers are trained by competent and experienced trainer(s) to the required level of competence. Other safety measures include:
- Always wear a helmet
- Never carry passengers on the ATV or in trailed equipment
- Visually check ATV before use, lights, mirrors, tires, leaks
- Obey speed limits and slow down when cornering
- Both hands-on handlebars when driving
- Do not attempt “wheelies” or stunts
- Follow proper procedures for climbing and descending hills and slopes
- Always follow the guidelines supplied on the training course
- Ensure any defects are repaired immediately and do not use the vehicle until complete
https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2021/si/619/made/en/pdf SI 619 of 2021