Across the country, county and state Farm Bureaus are making safety a priority through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program. March 1-7 has been designated as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week with this year’s theme being “Ride Like a Pro Whenever You Go.”
During this week and throughout the year, Farm Bureau is encouraging farmers to emphasize all-terrain vehicle helmet safety. Farmers and ranchers, as well as their family members and employees, should make it a habit to always wear a helmet when operating an ATV.
An ATV is valued on the farm and ranch for a wide range of chores – from fixing fences to fetching lost calves and everything in between. ATVs weigh up to 600 pounds and can reach speeds of 75 mph. Always making safety a priority on the farm can save both lives and resources by preventing accidents, injuries and lost time.
Jim Larson, Montana Ag Safety Program leader, rattles off the sad facts for 2013 regarding ATV fatalities: 21 deaths, with 18 from agriculture and 16 of those working cows. “We don’t record the injuries, but the industry standard across the country is for every fatality there are 1,000 injuries,” Larson says.
“The biggest contributor is too much speed and not knowing the terrain,” explains Larson. “These vehicles were designed simply to go from one place to another, but now we are loading them up with sprayers, fencing materials and shovels. We have made them into a tool but they are not really made for that, especially on uneven terrain.”
Larson adds the reason for deaths while working livestock is just that. “When you work livestock on an ATV, you are adding another element and are no longer concentrating on where you are driving,” he says. “That’s why we are always preaching ‘Slow down and pay attention to your surroundings.’”
Too often, ATVs are at fault in deaths and injuries to kids. About 29,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries each year.
Cascade County Farm Bureau recently held an ATV safety training during the MAGIE in Great Falls. Members explained about issues such as choosing correct ATV size, safety equipment, terrain concerns and the no extra rider rule.
“Just a few days after Cascade County hosted the ATV training, a young person who had taken our training was with his brother who had an ATV accident. Because of that, he knew not to try to move the injured brother until help arrived,” explains Alena Standley, western regional manager for Montana Farm Bureau. “It’s good to hear these safety seminars can help educate people of all ages about ATV safety.”
Gallatin County Farm Bureau has an ATV safety station for kids every year at the Gallatin Valley Farm Fair. Other county Farm Bureaus, such as Mussellshell, Park, Chouteau and Custer-Fallon host ATV safety seminars.
Ensure ATV safety with these simple, inexpensive tips:
- Always wear a DOT-approved helmet with face protection and protective gear
Helmets decrease the fatality risk by 50 percent and the chance of a non-fatal head injury by 80 percent.
- Select the right size
ATV 95 percent of child deaths occurred when children were riding an adult-sized ATV – too large for them to handle.
- Never carry multiple riders
75 percent of ATV-related deaths for children under 6 involved multiple riders on a single ATV.2
- Keep ATVs for off-road use only.
More than 60 percent of ATV-related youth deaths occurred while children or teens were riding on paved roads.
- Inspect your ATV before each ride.
Visit the National Ag Safety Database for a checklist – http://nasdonline.org/
Agricultural Safety Awareness Program is a part of the Farm Bureau Safety and Health Network of professionals who share an interest in identifying and decreasing risks. For more information and resources, visit the Montana Farm Bureau’s Facebook page, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Health & Safety page, the ASAP Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AgSafety or AFBF’s Pinterest board, http://www.pinterest.com/fbpin600/agricultural-safety-awareness-program/.
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation