The oil and gas industry is wide awake to the issue of workers being dog-tired
A number of studies show that being awake for 17 hours is actually the same as having a blood alcohol level of about .05—enough to stop drivers in their tracks. If you usually sleep eight hours a day, this is the same as staying up an hour later. Being awake for 21 hours straight is the same as .08, and workers who go 24 hours without sleep perform about as well as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.1.
Fatigue is that draggy, raggy feeling you get when you’re not getting enough sleep. It slows down your reactions and ability to make decisions and reduces your productivity. Working long hours is just one cause of fatigue. Others include stress, anxiety, poor sleep or sleep disorders, short turnaround between shifts and medical conditions. Drugs and alcohol are also fatigue generators.
In other words, without enough solid sleep you’re wasted—and you could be an accident waiting to happen. Around the “patch,” long days and nights are pretty well a given. Twelve-hour shifts seven days a week are common. The travel time between shifts can eat up more hours, and if you’re a fly-in, fly-out worker, commuting can really cut into your snooze time.
All kinds of industries are finding a link between fatigue and work-related injuries: the risk of errors, accidents and injuries—especially in high-risk, safety-critical environments—jumps when workers are tired and can’t function at their peak level. For Canadian offshore oil and gas operations, workers cannot work more than 12.5 hours at a time or have fewer than eight hours between shifts without being assessed and tracked.
Worker fatigue is thought to be a culprit in major incidents such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Chernobyl nuclear accident. It’s also considered one of the leading reasons behind worker deaths and injuries while driving on the job.
When you’re fatigued at work—you become the hazard
If you’re not getting the sleep you need, a lack of shut-eye can have hazardous consequences at work. Fatigued workers tend to avoid complex tasks, work slower, and rely more on their co-workers.
Watch for these signs if you are feeling tired, or notice a co-worker that may be fatigued:
• More mistakes than usual
• Poor logic and judgement including taking risks the worker would usually not take
• Decreased alertness and watchfulness
• Failure to respond to changes in surroundings or situations
• Slower reflexes and reactions
• Moodiness e.g., giddy, depressed, irritable, impatient boredom, restlessness
• Micro sleeps
• Automatic behaviour
DID YOU KNOW: Most accidents occur when people are more likely to want to sleep—between the hours of midnight to 6:00am and between the afternoon lull from 1pm-3pm.*
Dealing with being tired on the job comes down to some simple basics:
1.Listen and watch. Fatigue robs you of the ability to know exactly how you’re doing. If someone says you’re off your game, take it seriously and take a break. Keep an eye out for others who are fatigued.
2.Talk about it. Like any hazard on the job, it can’t be dealt with unless it’s talked about with the people you work with, your safety supervisor and your boss. Industry knows fatigue is a problem and is working on ways to manage it.
3.Finally, get some sleep. Granted, it might take some effort given a crowded work camp or your six-year-old’s Saturday morning hockey practice.
Get your ZZZ’s
To get enough sleep and to do your job safely and efficiently, sleep in a dark room that’s quiet and cool. Our circadian rhythms (the internal clock that tells our bodies when to sleep) are geared to light. If you’re exposed to bright light 20 minutes before going to bed, your sleep can be disrupted. If you need to watch TV or go online, turn down the brightness. And don’t do anything really interesting as it will stimulate you and keep you awake.
Oil and gas production operators play a key role in the industry. Required to be equally comfortable analyzing problems or working with a wrench, operators need the ability to combine in-depth knowledge and hands-on skills.
Such demands pose significant challenges for the training of operators. The safety-critical training must be to the highest standards, and include up-to-date technology and realistic experiences.
To meet those challenges, NAIT and Energy Safety Canada have joined forces to offer an operator program which delivers both the solid knowledge base and real-world experience needed for the job. NAIT’s online education will be reinforced with hands-on training at Energy Safety Canada’s facility in Nisku.
Students will have a chance to see, hear and touch working equipment in a realistic setting. Taking content off the screen and into the real world brings training to a new standard of realism and relevance for students and industry.
Designed in a typical career progression sequence, the program has four levels and the practical component begins from the very start. In Level I, students will learn the basics online and enhance that training at Nisku, where they will visit and see first-hand what oil and gas plants look and feel like. Levels II, III and IV will offer progressively more complex opportunities to do the tasks operators complete in the field, giving them the necessary skills to transition to the job site.*
NAIT Oil and Gas Production Operator Program
AS REAL AS IT GETS: Students are immersed in a hands-on operating environment at Energy Safety Canada’s training facility in Nisku, AB. The updated Oil and Gas Production Operator (OGPO) program delivers the knowledge and skills needed by students and industry.
The OGPO program had extensive input from operators in the field — the courses are produced by operators for operators
The program is designed to train both “green” and experienced workers to become technically knowledgeable individuals for careers in production and operations
*It is important to note that this does not take the place of site-specific training; operators who complete OGPO courses and labs will still require on-site training for the specific elements of each job.
The changes to the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act came into force on June 1, and all Alberta employers needed to look at their health and safety operations to ensure they are compliant.
The modernization of the Alberta OHS system increases employee participation in workplace health and safety, expands the definition of health and safety and increases support to injured workers. It brings Alberta further into alignment with legislation in other provinces — a positive step for employers who carry out operations in multiple jurisdictions.
Through consultation with industry, Energy Safety Canada has developed resources to provide guidance to employers about the changes in Bill 30.
What all employers need to know about Bill 30:
Workers have the right to:
Know about all hazards and site-specific safety information
Participate in workplace health and safety
Refuse dangerous work
Alberta Bill 30: What You Need to Know
All employers must ensure:
Health, safety and welfare of workers and other persons at the work site
Workers are aware of OHS rights and duties and any OHS issues arising from work conducted on the site
Workplace harassment and violence prevention plans are developed and implemented
Workers are not subject to or participate in harassment or violence at the worksite
Potentially serious incidents are reported to Alberta OHS
They cooperate with joint work site health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if one exists
A minimum of 16 hours of training for joint health and safety committee members, or health and safety representative, if one exists
What small employers (5-19 employees) need to know
A health and safety representative is required on work sites when work is expected to last 90 days or more
Must involve workers and health and safety representative, if applicable, in hazard assessment and controls and/or elimination of hazards identified in accordance with legislation
The health and safety representative is responsible for completing the same duties that are required of health and safety committee members:
Identification of hazards
Inspection of the work site
Investigation of work refusals, serious and potentially serious incidents
Must ensure the health and safety representative receives training respecting the duties and functions of a representative
Energy Safety Canada site visits
Site visits are offered by Energy Safety Canada’s Industry Development and Support team. These visits can ensure your company is in line with the OHS changes by:
Identifying any gaps between your safety management program and the new legislation
Assist in creating an action plan to correct deficiencies
Carrying out a risk assessment
Evaluating available resources
Support is available
Energy Safety Canada has developed resources, such as a white paper of the transition, program development guides and Safety Bulletins, to assist Alberta companies ensure compliance with the changes to the OHS system.
10 tips for getting out from under when you’re stuck
You may know the feeling. You’re driving along a road just fine. Then you slip, slide and come to a halt. Your vehicle is officially stuck. Natural inclination is to get out and get unstuck—quickly.
In our last blog post Remember Jordan, we saw the devastating effects of ‘taking a run at it’ and attempting vehicle recovery on your own, without the proper equipment. If you find yourself stuck—your best bet for getting out is to call a certified, towing professional. They have the know-how, training and equipment to get you out.
Not an option? These tips can help you recover your vehicle properly. Done right and done safely, you can get out without injury or incident and back safely on the road.
Know before you tow—10 tips for getting out from under when you’re stuck
If you’re in a position where you must tow and have another vehicle present, start by checking for hazards around you. Assess your danger/safe zones. Near a road or traffic? Place warning devices at least 30 metres (100 feet) in front of you and 30 metres behind you. Ensure there is a clear, straight path to pull the vehicle out.
Don’t have the right equipment? Improvising is not an option. Only attempt vehicle recovery if you have the right equipment engineered for this purpose. Do NOT use items that are used to secure loads, such as chains, hooks or web slings—they can become deadly projectiles.
Check the vehicle weight (GVW) on the plate of the driver’s door—don’t exceed ratings for the recovery equipment. The vehicle doing the towing needs to be heavier than or roughly the same weight as the vehicle being towed.
Use recovery straps in good condition with proper loops, not hooks (think deadly metal missile). Check the strap length and strength. The length needs to be at least six metres (20 feet) including the loops. Strap strength: the minimum breaking strength (MBS) should be two to three times the weight of the stuck vehicle.
Check your owner’s manual for information on how to properly secure the recovery straps or equipment to your vehicle. Only attach recovery straps to secure load-rated, engineered recovery components such as receivers and shackles and with a working load limit (WLL) that exceed the strap’s MBS. Keep it tight and do not jerk the strap before towing.
Lay out the recovery strap. Pull the vehicle on a straight path in front. Plan ahead and agree on hand signals. Accelerate slowly (about 10-12km/hr). Slow and steady is best. If after three attempts the struck vehicle is still stuck, it’s time to stop and find a tow truck. Only remove straps when both vehicles are fully stopped and secured.
Constant communication will keep you safe. STOP if you are ever unsure or feel unsafe.
Murray Elliott, President of Energy Safety Canada reminds workers, “Sadly, in Jordan’s case—a young life was unnecessarily taken too soon. Before taking a run at it—let’s remember Jordan. A proper field risk assessment, knowing the basics of safe vehicle recovery, using the right equipment and understanding kinetic forces at play can prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Calling a professional reduces the risk and gets the job done safely. No job is worth losing a life.”
A young man’s story propels awareness of vehicle recovery safety
Jordan’s story is unforgettable. And that’s the point.
Jordan Roppel was 18 years old and less than two months on the job at a perforating manufacturing plant in Standard, Alta., when the Toyota forklift he was operating got stuck in soft mud.
What happened next is something that’s common in the oil and gas industry: workers decided to tow out the lift.
The site’s lead hand drove his truck over to pull out the forklift. He attached a hoisting sling to a chain. A general helper secured an additional web sling to the other end of the chain and then over the truck’s hitch ball.
The lead hand got in the truck, while Jordan remained on the forklift. The lead hand drove the truck forward. The forklift didn’t move. The lead hand reversed the truck a few feet and then accelerated forward. Once, twice, three times . . .
On the final pull, the explosive force of the shock load snapped the hitch ball off and sent it flying at the speed of a bullet. Jordan died at the scene.
In memory of Jordan Roppel, 18 years old. Jordan died on scene in a vehicle recovery incident.
Vern Sparkes, founder of a local vehicle recovery equipment company, Ditch Hitch says shock loading is especially riddled with risk and explains it’s not the same as towing. “You’re taking a run at it and creating extreme kinetic forces,” says Sparkes.
A tow rope or strap can snap with enough force to put a dent in a tailgate, damage a grill or cause serious injury if someone is in the line of fire. A six-foot run in a ½ ton truck generates 12,000 pounds of force. That stored energy is enough to break off a ball hitch or other inferior towing equipment and turn them into extremely dangerous projectiles.
In fact, all kinds of commonly used equipment used to recover vehicles can fail, injure and kill:
Tow ropes with hooks: ropes or straps can snap, kinetic force can turn hooks into projectiles
Open or closed hooks on vehicles: a study by an Alberta utility company found most hooks fail between 4,000 and 12,000 pounds
Shackles: great for hoisting and rigging but cannot be used for side loading or shock loading; never to be used for vehicle recovery
Pintle hitches: good for pulling trailers but the hitch receiver’s pin strength is generally unknown; gates, balls and pins can all fail
Shackle brackets: good for winching on a straight, inline pull only; manufacturers such as Warn and Crosby advise their shackles are not designed for side loading or shock loading.
Connection pins: while some can withstand up to 42,000 pounds of force, many fail with as little as 4,800 pounds of force; most pins do not have weight limits or breaking strength specifications.
“It will take time to change how vehicles are recovered,” says Mark Salkeld, Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) president and CEO. “We know poor practices are happening right now and it’s just a matter of time before it happens again. It’s something we have to stop.”
Jordan’s mother, Tammy Roppel shares candid advice on vehicle recovery.
“Before a recovery begins, stop if you ever feel unsafe. We know first-hand the pain that comes from proceeding with an unsafe procedure. Don’t be afraid to say no and walk away if you need to. No job is worth risking a life.”
Jordan’s memory is kept alive in a scholarship fund of $2,500, through a campaign called Remember Jordan in partnership with Ditch Hitch and PSAC.
Sparkes adds, “When someone gets stuck, remember Jordan. When they think about pulling a vehicle, remember Jordan. When they pick up a chain or sling, remember Jordan.”
For more information on vehicle recovery and safe towing practices, stay tuned for our next blog post in this series—What to Know Before You Tow.
Visit our website for additional updates and resources related to vehicle recovery.
It’s been 26 years since an explosion nearly killed her father, but Kayla Rath still panics at the sound of a siren.
“I always assume the worst,” says Kayla. “Every worst-case scenario is always my first thought.”
On Sept. 20, 1991, at a natural gas facility in southwest Kansas, Kayla’s father literally burst into flames. Brad Livingston was working with a welder who, ignoring safety rules, started patching a leak in a gas storage tank. It exploded, killing the welder instantly. Brad, engulfed in flames, was blown onto the roof of another storage tank, which exploded seconds later. He was still alive when he was pulled to safety, but with second-and third-degree burns to more than 60 per cent of his body, Brad had only a five per cent chance of survival.
“When I walked into his room I chose not to touch him, because I was scared of him,” Kayla recalls. “His hands and face… were all swollen and red and black.”
But Brad did survive, enduring months of agonizing skin grafts and years of rehabilitation. Kayla credits her “amazing” mother for keeping him on the road to recovery and for holding the family together.
Today, Brad is a popular motivational speaker at corporate safety seminars. His Just A Second Ago presentation is a blunt warning that lives can change instantly if workers take shortcuts, refuse to abandon “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitudes or, as in his case, allow themselves to be intimidated by reckless colleagues.
Invited to speak alongside her father three years ago, Kayla now regularly joins his presentations. Married with five children, her message is equally blunt: anyone who ignores workplace safety is simply being selfish, because accidents “ripple” far beyond the victim.
Kayla Rath and her father Brad Livingston
Lives can change instantly if workers take shortcuts or refuse to abandon “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitudes.
“Workplace safety is not just about you. It’s about your child, your mom, your brother,” she says. ”Friends are the ripples, children are the ripples.”
“Children expect their parents to come home safely from work,” adds Kayla. “When that doesn’t happen, their lives are changed forever.”
Energy Safety Canada is pleased to host Kayla Rath as a keynote presenter at the 67th annual Petroleum Safety Conference, May 1-3, 2018 at the Banff Springs Hotel.
Hear Kayla’s story on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, from 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM.
With an oil strike in Turner Valley, Alberta launched Canada’s energy industry in the early 1900s. Resources were abundant, but experience was in short supply. Workers were expected to learn on the job—and avoid the dangers of a drilling rig’s many moving and often oil-slicked parts: pulleys, wheels, cogs, belts, gears, chains, ropes, planks, tools and equipment.
As the industry grew and advanced, so too has the role of safety. In 1949, the Petroleum Industry Training Service (PITS) was formed to equip oil and gas workers with the knowledge and skills needed to be safer on the job.
Gone are the days when workers would walk off a farm field or out of a high school classroom and on to a rig without knowing the safety risks—and how to avoid them.
With unparalleled development, oil and gas has seen profound changes since that first discovery well in Turner Valley. Canada’s diverse energy sector now includes all matters of resource extraction and processing, with presence from coast to coast to coast.
Companies have made worker safety as much a part of their operations as advancing technologies, maximizing production and delivering shareholder value.
Evolving with a constant goal
In an industry known for its up and down business cycles, worker safety is now an unfailing constant. For the past 10 years, the companies, workers, contractors, trade associations and other stakeholders in our industry have collectively worked towards a common goal of zero injuries and incidents.
Formed on October 2, 2017 through the merger of Enform Canada (Enform) and Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA), the new organization now represents one voice for safety in the oil and gas industry across the country.
“The merger of these two organizations signals a new day for our industry,” says John Rhind, Energy Safety Canada’s CEO. “Energy Safety Canada will advance the work of its legacy organizations to prevent incidents and to improve the tools, systems and the communications that will accelerate safe work performance.”
Energy Safety Canada will represent and advocate for the industry’s most valuable resource: workers. For workers, that means a reduction in duplicate training and more consistent safety rules from worksite to worksite.
“I’ve been a frontline worker in this industry,” adds Rhind. “I know that workers often experience different sets of safety rules from site to site, which can be confusing and frustrating. Having a single set of safety standards will make it easier for both workers and companies. When we drive complexity out of the system, the result is reduced confusion and safer worksites.”
Through collaboration, industry will pool its expertise and work together to find simple, agreed-upon safety solutions and standards. In turn, these solutions and standards will save time and money, and increase efficiency.
“This merger marks progress in driving continuous improvement in safe work performance across the entire industry,” says Murray Elliott, President, Energy Safety Canada. “We expect that safety performance will improve faster and provide benefits both to workers and companies.”
Energy Safety Canada will be a one-stop-shop for safety expertise; a hub of safety knowledge that delivers effective learning, shares improved safety data analytics, and advocates for the health and safety of those working in the industry and those impacted by industry activity.
Elliott emphasizes, “With our new organization, oil and gas safety in Canada is changing for the better. Our goal is the same as industry’s—zero injuries, zero incidents.”
Once fall hits, the summer vibes end abruptly with the grind of back-to-school routines, longer commutes and endless traffic. We need to get where we’re going fast and the person ahead is going way… too… slow. When tempers flare behind the wheel our reactions can range from honking horns, muttering expletives, to full-blown road rage.
Road rage triggers
According to a national State Farm Canada survey in 2015, 33 per cent of Canadians say they are victims of road rage at least once a month. The most common road rage triggers include:
Tailgating (30 per cent)
Others driving distracted (22 per cent)
Being cut off (22 per cent)
“Increased suburban development and a lack of updated transportation infrastructure have led to increased congestion on Canadian roads,” says John Bordignon, media relations, State Farm. “More traffic can lead to frustration for drivers. Add things like weather, construction and the behaviours of others and one can understand how emotions can quickly escalate into road rage. Being in a disgruntled state of mind can drastically increase the possibility of accidents and decrease safety for yourself and those travelling with and around you.”
Work Safe Alberta cites most road rage incidents start as a simple encounter between two drivers, which can escalate quickly into an aggressive and dangerous situation.
Road raging or just hyper-aggressive?
Perception might indicate a rise in road rage incidents, as bystanders expose confrontations via Youtube and the Internet. But how common are these incidents?
David Wiesenthal, professor emeritus and senior scholar with the Department of Psychology at York University, says it’s hard to definitively pin down the level of road rage these days.
“Physical assaults, thank goodness, tend to be unusual,” Wiesenthal says. “There are more vehicles on the road and we know from Statistics Canada data that commuting times have increased dramatically.” He notes that more congestion on the road, coupled with stress and time pressure delays would lead him to suspect, “the nasty stuff of cutting people off, honking, obscene gestures and shouting at people, probably has increased.”
Particularly in urban areas, drivers know they are relatively anonymous in their car. It’s unlikely they’ll encounter the other driver in the next lane ever again.
“The combination of anonymity and the notion of infrequent interaction in the future is a liberating experience for people to behave in a nasty or unpleasant manner,” says Wiesenthal.
Scott Wilson, senior policy analyst with the Alberta Motor Association says, “Road rage is very infrequent. Very rare. In Alberta this year, going back the last 12 months, we’ve probably seen a handful of these types of situations in the province. Road rage is a type of aggressive driving that results in some sort of violent confrontation. You don’t see that very often.”
Instead, Wilson says experts are actually seeing an increase in hyper-aggressive driving.
“What you tend to see and what most people will experience—is somebody near you while you’re driving doing something that you probably perceive as aggressive,” says Wilson.
He adds that when a driver becomes agitated, those frustrations can manifest themselves in a number of different ways. It could be someone speeding, not signalling or weaving in and out of traffic. They ride your tail, bumper-to-bumper because they feel you’re not driving fast enough.
If you are the perpetrator of road rage or hyper-aggression, recognize your anger. Pull over when it’s safe to do so. Get out of traffic. Take a break.
Wilson advises, “The most important thing you can do is decompress. Whatever helps you relax and get back to a better space.”
10 ways to keep your calm and drive on
Bad behaviour behind the wheel—avoiding road rage and hyper-aggressive driving
Call it road rage or hyper-aggressive driving, any outward display of aggression on the road poses a safety issue for all parties involved.
Drivers need to place themselves in a position where they can best react to the hazards they encounter in traffic—sometimes those hazards happen to be other drivers.
If you find the need to tame the rage, or find yourself in a confrontation—here’s what you need to do:
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Know how long it will take to get to your desired spot and avoid rushing which causes speeding on the roads.
Get plenty of sleep and recognize when you’re fatigued. Being tired can add to stress and cause unnecessary reactions while driving.
“If an individual is sensing that they might be getting into a situation that has the potential to escalate into a confrontation—don’t get out of your car to go over and talk to somebody for example. Stay in your vehicle, avoid eye contact and don’t engage,” says Wilson. He adds, “If they sense they can’t get a rise out of you, they’re going to keep on going and leave you be.”
The road trip is a time-honoured family tradition. Whether you’re going 400 or 4,000 kilometres, to the cabin or from coast to coast, it pays to get prepped for a flawless family road trip.
Enjoy this last long weekend of the summer with 25 tips to keep your trek safe.
These might seem basic, but if you don’t tend to them it’s hard to get out of the driveway—and where you’re going. You’ll thank yourself for doing this stuff well before you leave. Your family will (rightfully) think you rock.
1. Give your vehicle the once over, a full inspection and servicing for summer driving.
2. If you’re going to be towing a trailer, check its tires and lights and your hitch. Know how to hitch and tow your trailer/boat, and how to load off-road vehicles.
3. If you’re going to be carrying a load of any size, check your ropes, straps and tie-downs. Got a roof or bumper rack? Make sure its contents are secure. You don’t want loose objects flying at high-speed off your vehicle on the highway.
4. If your little ones are in car seats, check the universal anchoring system to ensure it’s installed correctly. A frightening number of times it’s not. See the Yes Test for car seats at 4. myhealth.alberta.ca.
5. Taking a rental? Know basic operations such as how the cruise control works, where the gas cap is and have adequate insurance coverage. Driving to the U.S.? Find out if the vehicle can be driven across the Canada/U.S. border in advance.
6. Check ahead for the forecast and road conditions, construction or closures.
25 tips for heading out on the highway
Plan your journey
7. Pre-program your route into your GPS or cellphone before hitting the road. Program stops along the way to avoid searching for directions while driving.
8. Plan your departure time and estimated arrival time; share the details with someone. And let them know when you arrive and are home again.
9. Copy documents such as passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates and leave with a trusted family member or friend. You can also post these to the cloud for easy access.
10. Leave room to breathe. Space always seems tight on family trips—give the kids a bit of room around their seats. Same goes for the dog.
11. Bring some creature comforts: pillows, blankets, sweaters or fleeces and favourite teddies and toys.
12. Preload essentials such as a cellphone charger (charge in advance and keep it fully charged on the road). Bring other items like spare keys, sunglasses, an extra credit card and spare cash.
13. Keep things you’ll be bound to need (wipes, tissues, sunglasses, snacks) nearby. Let your co-pilot reach for them so you don’t drive distracted.
14. Stay hydrated and pack snacks.
15. Don’t forget to make room for a well-stocked emergency kit. You never know when you’ll need it.
Hittin’ the highway
16. Wear your seatbelt. It’s simplest, best way to protect yourself and loved ones while travelling on roads.
17. Drive alert. If you’re tired, take turns driving with your co-pilot or take a 20-minute nap at a rest stop. See the Alberta Motor Association tips on beating driver fatigue.
18. Breathe deep and ease off the gas pedal. Driving at or slightly below the speed limit will get you where you’re going in plenty of time.
19. Young Drivers of Canada advises: avoid tailgating. You never know when you’re going to have to suddenly slow down or stop.
20. If you’re towing a trailer or carrying a heavy load, leave more room between you and other vehicles. The heavier your gross vehicle weight, the longer it takes to stop.
21. Pass only when it’s safe and give yourself extra time around transport trucks.
22. Watch for wildlife; many animals are most active at dusk.
23. Watch for cyclists and motorcylists. They can appear out of nowhere.
24. Avoid distractions–especially your cellphone. Block calls and pre-program everything—your route and playlists.
25. Enjoy—it’s the end of summer!
How to keep it safe when riding an ATV for work or weekend fun
Blazing the trails on all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can easily give you that outdoor thrill you desire. Make no mistake—ATVs are big and powerful, with some serious muscle reaching speeds of 105 km/hour and weighing up to 800 pounds.
The safety of cars we drive in everyday offer us a shield of protection in the form of seatbelts, windows and doors; whereas the lack thereof—and pure openness of an ATV provides both the reward and the risk.
A fun day of riding can turn into a rollover nightmare in an instant, leading to serious injury or even death.
According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research (ACICR), ATV injury stats paint a not-so-pretty picture. From 2004-2014, there were 145 deaths related to ATVs in the province, averaging 14 deaths per year. A significant number of those deaths were due to head injuries and riders without a helmet.
So, whether you’re riding alone, with your family, on a hunting trip, for work, or good ‘ol fun—exercise caution before you trek off-road.
Both novices and pro riders should observe these 10 tips for safely using an ATV.
Consider these safety tips before you ride an ATV
Inspect your ATV before each ride.
Make sure all parts are in working order—headlights, tail lights, tires, brakes, gears and controls are all intact. Check cables and connections and make sure you are looking for wear and tear. Practice braking and shifting gears slowly if it’s been a while. Do this every time before you ride. If something isn’t right, don’t ride until you get it fixed.
Wear the right gear: certified helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
Not only should you wear the right gear, ensure it fits properly and is secured in the right places.
Stay off paved roads, unless you’re crossing one and it’s permitted by law; only ride on designated trails.
ATVs aren’t meant for highways and streets. Riding on-road in your off-road vehicle defeats the purpose and can also trash your wheels. Ride where it’s legal.
Also check the forecast before you ride. Changing weather conditions could make the terrain more challenging and potentially more dangerous.
Don’t drink or use drugs and ride an ATV. And get rid of any other driver distractions.
You know better than to drink or do drugs and then drive right? Same goes for operating an ATV. You put yourself and others at risk if you’re impaired while driving your ATV.
Stay sober and focus on riding with your full attention.
And put away other distractions like your cell phone. Save the selfies for when you’re safely stopped and out of the way.
Always keep both hands and both feet on the ATV.
Keep your feet firmly planted on the foot pegs and don’t let them dangle to the sides. Your legs could get caught up in the rear spinning wheels.
Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure the ATV is right for the rider.
Right-size the ATV to the person’s age, height, weight and experience level. Motosport recommends an ATV engine size of 125cc to 250cc for beginner older teens and adults; 250cc and up for intermediate to advanced riders.
Starting on a four-wheeler ATV might be easier for beginners, whereas a dirt bike might prove to be a challenge for the non-pro rider.
Don’t overload. Only carry a passenger on an ATV designed for two people.
No piggy-backing, side-riding or seat modifications. Most ATVs are designed for single riders. Adding a person can make your ATV unstable.
Always supervise riders under the age of 16.
In some provinces, it’s illegal for riders to be under 16. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends children under 16 should never ride ATVs, even as a passenger. ATVs generally aren’t designed for children and they may lack critical physical, cognitive and motor abilities to safely operate one.
If it’s legal for your child to ride, exercise caution and repeat steps 1 to 10 on this list.
Different provinces have different rules and regulations. Check out the law in your province. And, take an ATV training course.
In Canada, ATV laws vary across provinces and jurisdictions. Check your local transport authority for specific legalities and by-laws related to the safe operation of ATVs.
ATV training is available throughout Canada and certified through the Canada Safety Council. Riders are taught all the basics such as navigating controls, reading terrain, turning and climbing hills.
Watch your speed.
Bumpy, rocky, patchy, muddy, rugged, rocky, sloping, uneven and hilly. These words describe the terrain you’ll likely encounter while riding an ATV. Add increased speeds to the mix and you could find yourself flipping over with the vehicle on top of you, or you could be thrown from the vehicle altogether.
Practicing these 10 safety tips will help you get the most out of your off-road ATV adventure—and could potentially save your life.