A 14 year-old child on a work placement scheme with a company operating a commercial shoot was killed when the ATV he was riding overturned. He had ridden the ATV into woods on his own to feed pheasants and was later found next to the overturned ATV on sloping ground. He was not wearing a helmet, although this was not the cause of his death.
The company was prosecuted under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to assess adequately the risks associated with using ATVs and for allowing its gamekeepers to use them without training. Magistrates also heard that the tyres on the ATV were inflated to different pressures, which could have made the bike less stable. The company pleaded guilty, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs.
Employers and users need to appreciate the dangers associated with ATVs. The lessons to be learnt from this case are to ensure that people using such machines have been properly trained, that they are capable of remaining in control of the bike at all times, that any tasks undertaken are within their capacity and that proper supervision is exercised. Use of personal protective equipment, especially head protection is essential, as is following the manufacturer’s safety instructions, which advise specific age limits for different types of machine.
Children and young people are more vulnerable to injury than adults. A thorough risk assessment should be carried out before a child or young person uses any machinery or equipment or undertakes any task. Employers and users should be aware also that use of some work equipment by children is specifically prohibited.
Even if the risk assessment indicates that the risk is low or can be controlled, adequate instructions and training, appropriate to the physical and emotional maturity of the individual child or young person, should be given.