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Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 National Farm Safety and Health Week

The 2010 National Farm Safety and Health Week observance takes place September 19 - 25. The theme for 2010 is "ATV's - Work Smart. Ride Safe."

According to the Farm Safety 4 Just Kids website, today's use of the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) goes beyond the limits of recreation and leisure. More and more ATVs are being used as significant components of the farm fleet.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that:

* 3,252 ATV related deaths that have occurred since 1982.

* 36% of ATV deaths were to people less than 16 and 16% were under age 12.

* Children riding ATVs too large for their size and skill levels account for almost half of all ATV injuries.

* 14% of ATV operators are under age 16 but the risk of injury for people under 16 is 2.5 times the risk of drivers 16-34.

Many ATV-oriented farm chores are given to children, who may operate the ATV in an unsafe manner without proper training and supervision. These may include:

* Driving at excessive speeds

* Taking unnecessary risks

* Accepting riders

* Not wearing required protective equipment

The following suggested practices will help assure safety:

* Drivers should receive sufficient training and supervision.

* Restrict the use of ATVs by children.

* Always wear personal protective equipment when operating an ATV.

* Maintain correct body position and weight distribution during ATV operation.

* Refrain from taking unnecessary risks such as performing stunts, using alcohol or drugs, excessive speeding, and accepting riders.

* ATVs are not to be driven on paved roads.

* Do not operate the ATV under adverse conditions such as inclement weather, insufficient light, hazardous terrain, or an ATV in need of repair.

All-terrain vehicles can be hazardous. These vehicles are used for work and recreation, and are capable of achieving high speeds. Chance of injuries is greater among inexperienced ATV drivers than those who have received training. If young people are using ATVs they must have proper instruction and be able to fully comprehend the machine they are operating. No matter what function the ATV performs, remember that it is only as capable as the operator.

This week in September is the traditional kick off campaign to reinforce the safety message that began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing of the first proclamation for farm safety in 1944. Though the 2010 theme addresses ATV safety, we are entering the fall harvest season with additional large farm machinery sharing the roadways with personal vehicles. Please be alert for farm equipment and use caution, courtesy and patience when traveling. Let's keep the focus on safety.