News & Events

Minister English introduces measures to help reduce number of serious all-terrain vehicle injuries and fatalities

Mandatory head gear and training when using ATVs for work purposes

Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, has signed the Statutory Instrument which introduces an obligation on the users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to undergo mandatory training, and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), when using such vehicles for work purposes. 

Damien English TD, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail said:

“In recent years, there has been a number of accidents in farming and other areas of work involving the use of ATVs. The number and severity of these incidents has given rise to serious safety concerns, particularly across the farming community. The overall objective of these amending Regulations is to reduce the level of death and serious injury associated with ATVs in the workplace by providing specific legal requirements for the wearing of head protection and for operators of ATVs to undergo professional training.

“Over a ten-year period (2009-2018) tractors, ATVs and other vehicles represent 30% of workplace fatalities in the agriculture sector, with ATV fatalities showing a significant increase in recent years, with 11 fatalities attributed to their operation. Investigations into the causes of these accidents by the Health and Safety Authority have shown that many cases are caused by the lack of training and head protection.

“The introduction of mandatory training and use of PPE for using ATVs was a recommendation of the Farm Safety Task Force and I am pleased to bring this legislation into effect.

“The new measures will come into force on the 20 November, 2023. The two-year lead-in period in relation to the enforcement of these requirements is to allow everyone involved - users, suppliers and retailers – enough time to ensure that all of the necessary measures will be in place for compliance”.

Martin Heydon TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Farm Safety at the Department of Agriculture added:

“ATVs are important tools on many farms. However, they can be dangerous, and the 11 fatalities recorded by the HSA are a stark reminder of that fact.

“It is possible to reduce the risks associated with the operation of ATVs and that starts with appropriate head protection and training. I welcome the work of my colleague Minister English to introduce this legislation as it is another important step to drive down the unacceptably high number of fatalities on Irish farms.

“I look forward to working closely with Minister English over the next while to help farmers who use ATVs prepare for the new requirements, making their farms safer places.”

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2021 (SI No 619 of 2021) are available from the Department’s website (SI No 619 of 2021).

Note for Editors

The agriculture sector is currently the most dangerous place of work within the Irish economy. While the sector represents approximately 6% of the national workforce it regularly experiences up to 50% of national annual workplace fatalities.

For the period 2008 to 2017, 12 Fatalities involving ATV’s 4 Trapped, 2 Crushed, 3 Impact with Object, 2 Struck Ground and 1 Struck another Vehicle. To operate an ATV safely one must be capable of moving bodyweight to maintain stability and prevent overturning. This technique, particularly necessary on sloping land, known as ‘active riding’ requires a high degree of flexibility and dexterity often lacking in elderly farmers. Of note is that 8 (72%) of ATV fatalities in the last 10 years (2009-2018) have involved persons over 65 years old.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) monitors compliance with Health and Safety legislation at the workplace and can take enforcement action (up to and including prosecutions). The HSA is the national Agency for the provision of information and advice to employers, employees and self-employed on all aspects of workplace health and safety and the statutory obligations on employers and employees.

A new Farm Safety Action plan has been published by the HSA, in partnership with Farm Safety Advisory Committee to cover 2021- 2024 and focuses on safety critical areas on farms and aims to continue actions and build on the achievements of the previous plan. The new plan focuses on high-risk activities particularly tractors and vehicle use, livestock handling and working at height, and develop new ways of improving farmer skill levels particularly around risk identification and management.

The requirement to implement a statutory obligation on users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to undergo mandatory training and to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when using such vehicles for work purposes was one of the recommendations of the Farm Safety Task Force.

The Farm Safety Task Force was a consultative forum jointly chaired by the Ministers from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, involving a large range of representative bodies and businesses from the Farming sector. The requirement for training and PPE when using an ATVs for work purposes is a new requirement which has been deemed necessary to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from the use of ATVs, particularly on farms.