This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1), the General Duty Clause of the Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Although the majority of all-terrain vehicle (ATV)-related injuries and deaths occur during recreational use, ATV use in America's workplaces is widespread and increasing, particularly in the agricultural industry. Injury and fatality statistics for ATV recreational use may provide some information about likely trends in the workplace. In September 2005, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a report indicating that ATV-related fatalities rose from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004, and injuries rose to an all-time high of 136,100 for 2004, with over 800,000 injuries reported in the last 10 years .
Although these statistics were only for recreational use of ATVs (occupational injury data for ATVs is not collected, compiled and reported in the same manner as that for recreational use), employees who use ATVs while doing their jobs are exposed to hazards similar to those experienced by recreational users. Data on occupational injuries provided to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by employers includes over 100 occupational fatalities involving ATVs during the last ten (10) years. (see Table 1)  Fatalities and injuries appear to have occurred at a steady rate during the last several years. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) investigation data includes 50 workplace accidents in the last ten (10) years that resulted in a workplace injury or fatality and involved an ATV. As ATV use increases in the workplace, employers and employees can reduce the risk of injury by modifying work practices, operating ATVs within manufacturer's limitations, wearing helmets, and obtaining vehicle-specific training.
The purpose of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) is to identify:
This SHIB is intended to address any motorized off-highway vehicle designed to travel on low pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, for use by a single operator and no passenger, and used to carry only those amounts of cargo that do not exceed the manufacturer's limits for the front and rear racks.
ATVs are used in a wide variety of America's workplaces, including law enforcement, agriculture, construction, oil production, and facilities management. It is imperative that employers and employees take the necessary steps to ensure that ATVs are operated safely to minimize the number and severity of workplace accidents.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has investigated a number of workplace fatalities involving ATVs and is aware that ATV-related injuries and fatalities continue to occur in workplaces throughout the United States. In June of 2003, the Bismarck, North Dakota Area Office investigated an accident where an employee was fatally injured while driving an ATV uphill on rough terrain. The employer had fitted the ATV with a sprayer mounted on the rear cargo rack. The ATV was being used to apply herbicide to off-road weeds when the accident occurred. As an employee drove the ATV uphill on the rough terrain, its front wheels came off the ground and the ATV flipped over. The employee tried to prevent the ATV from flipping by standing and shifting her weight; the employee eventually tried to jump from the ATV as it flipped over, but could not jump clear and was fatally crushed. OSHA's investigation identified decreased vehicle stability as the major cause of the accident. The addition of the sprayer to the ATV's rear cargo rack reduced vehicle stability by changing the distribution of vehicle weight over the wheel base. The sprayer exceeded the manufacturer's weight limit for the rear cargo rack by approximately 55 pounds (lbs.). OSHA's investigation also showed that the decrease in ATV stability was compounded when the ATV was driven up a hill on rough terrain.
OSHA accident investigation data dating back to 1990 include 24 occupational fatalities and 26 occupational injuries that involved operating an ATV. OSHA's data indicate that seven serious injuries and fatalities resulted from unbalanced loads and loads in excess of the ATV's specified limits; four of these involved overloading the rear cargo rack. The other causes of occupational accidents noted during OSHA investigations included: operating at excessive speeds for the terrain/operation; operating ATVs on paved roads; not wearing a protective helmet; insufficient or no training; and carrying passengers.
ATV Terrain and Operating Conditions
One reason employers may elect to use ATVs is that they enable employees to traverse rough terrain and get to remote locations quickly. However, it is very important that operators drive at a safe speed to accommodate the changing terrain (rocks, logs, ditches, and other obstacles) and to reduce the risk of overturning or rolling over the ATV. Traversing a slope also presents a rollover hazard to ATV operators. Rolling over or overturning an ATV is one of the leading incidents that result in fatalities [1, 5]. About 46 percent (23 of 50) of the occupational injuries and fatalities OSHA investigated (1990 - 2003) occurred when the ATV overturned. According to the investigation reports, operators overturned as a result of excessive speed, unstable load, rough terrain, and excessive incline.
ATVs are specifically designed for off-road use and are not intended to be driven on concrete or paved roads. Injuries and fatalities can occur as a result of collisions with other vehicles and as a result of the difficulty of controlling an ATV on pavement .
Load Limitations and ATV Modification
ATVs are engineered for certain operating conditions and for handling specific loads. Modifications to an ATV may alter its performance and increase the potential for an accident. Any modification to an ATV should be performed only after obtaining approval from the manufacturer. Modification includes the use of after-market products that are sold as accessories. Employers and drivers should read the operator's manual to understand the limitations of ATVs. The cargo (front and rear racks) and passenger weight limits of an ATV should not be exceeded because it affects the ATV's maneuverability and performance. As stated earlier, exceeding an ATV's weight capacity is a common cause of serious ATV accidents.
ATVs are not typically designed to carry passengers, and a common mistake made by ATV operators is to allow a passenger on their ATV. To 3 effectively steer and control an ATV, the driver often needs to make quick body weight shifts combined with acceleration and braking . A passenger can impair the safe operation and maneuverability of the ATV and the additional passenger weight may exceed the manufacturer's weight limit for the ATV. Passengers are put at a high risk of injury when riding on an ATV. The CPSC reported that up to 20 percent of recreational ATV injuries occur to passengers [3, 5]. OSHA's data indicate that two occupational injuries occurred when passengers were carried on ATVs designed only for the operator. In one case, a passenger was thrown from the ATV during a turn. In the other, the passenger was pinned under the ATV when it overturned. In both cases, vehicle instability created by the additional rider likely caused the accident.
ATV Operator Qualifications and Training
Inexperienced drivers face a higher risk of injury according to the recreational data collected by CPSC. During the first month of operation, new recreational ATV drivers have an injury rate 13 times higher than the overall average injury rate for ATV operators. Further, the CPSC's data indicate that almost half the injured drivers had less than one year of experience and one-fourth of the injured drivers had less than one month of experience . The often severe terrain and operating conditions, along with the unique handling of ATVs, necessitate proper training, practice, and experience.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment is strongly recommended when operating ATVs. The potential rollover hazards require the use of a DOT-approved helmet. According to a study of recreational ATV-related deaths in West Virginia, 65 percent of the deaths resulted from head and neck injuries. Of these fatalities, three-quarters of the ATV users were not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident . CSPC indicates that 25 percent of those who died from head injuries sustained in recreational ATV accidents would have lived if they had been wearing a proper helmet . In addition to helmets, appropriate boots, gloves, and goggles should also be worn.
Like any piece of workplace machinery, ATVs must have regular maintenance. Poor ATV maintenance contributes to serious accidents and fatalities . Along with a regular maintenance schedule, employers and drivers need to ensure the completion of a pre-ride inspection. Tire condition, braking, steering, and suspension systems are all critical to safe operation.
ATV manufacturers sometimes issue product recalls to replace, modify, or repair faulty products. Employers should be aware of how recall notifications are made and where to obtain pertinent information. The CPSC maintains copies of ATV recalls, which may be accessed on the CPSC's website at http://www.cpsc.gov. When a recall is issued by a manufacturer, employers should follow the instructions or guidance in the notice to ensure that their ATVs are maintained in proper operating condition.
Three-wheel ATVs have not been manufactured since 1988, but older three-wheel ATVs are still in use. While the stability of ATVs as a whole is low, the stability of three-wheel ATVs is generally worse than for four-wheel ATVs. Cornering and traversing slopes on three- wheel vehicles can be particularly dangerous.
Most states have enacted laws regarding ATV use. Many states have passed laws prohibiting ATV operation on public roads in most instances, and some have age and registration requirements for ATV operators. Furthermore, many states require operators to wear a protective helmet while operating an ATV. Employers should contact their state Department of Motor Vehicles, Public Safety, or Natural Resources to determine the specific requirements and obligations for their state.
Some manufacturers now build certain ATVs with rollover protection systems. Depending on the terrain and usage of the ATV, employers should consider an ATV with rollover protection.
The following guidelines will help reduce the risk of injury to employee operators of ATVs:
Links/Citations to the websites listed above are offered for the reader's convenience. Since OSHA does not control the information contained in these websites, OSHA cannot assure the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of all of this information. Moreover, providing links/citations to such websites does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, or their content, nor does it suggest that these websites are the exclusive or most useful sources of relevant information.
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.
All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.
**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.Back to Top
The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.