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ATV crashed down embankment, injuring driver

Date of incident: June 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015161530103
Employer: Local government

Incident summary
A worker was participating in a training session to become certified to operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) as part of the work of accessing watersheds and trails. During this training session, the worker was required to drive and manoeuvre on a gravel service road. While travelling down a slope of 5 degrees, the ATV left the road and became airborne. The worker was thrown from the ATV and landed approximately 4 metres (13 feet) below the edge of the road down a steep slope. The ATV travelled a further 8 metres (26 feet) past the worker and struck several trees along the way before it came to rest. As a result of the ATV crash, the worker suffered serious injuries.

Investigation conclusions


  • Worker drove ATV off the road. The worker was travelling on the right-hand side of the gravel road below the posted speed. The ATV travelled across the road and down the embankment on the left side of the road. There was no attempt to brake or counter-steer. Why the worker drove the ATV off the road is undetermined. The worker has no memory of the incident.

Contributing factors

  • ATV training not to course standard. The ATV rider course training manual sets out a total of 325 minutes (approximately 5½ hours) of practical basic skills training prior to the trail ride portion of the course. On the day of the incident, the trainees only received approximately 2¼ hours of basic skills training. The course training standard was developed to ensure that new trainees were competent in basic skills before progressing to the trail ride portion of the training. In this case, the trainees were not provided the recommended preparatory training time, and this may have contributed to the incident.
  • Failure to conduct hazard identification and risk assessment. Contrary to the employer’s safety management system, no adequate hazard identification and risk assessment was conducted before starting the ATV training course. The training could have been conducted in a less rugged environment to allow the trainees to become familiar with the ATV operation. Once familiar, they could have then progressed to a more challenging terrain. An adequate hazard assessment would have identified the severe consequences of a mishap in this rugged terrain where the training was scheduled.

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Publication Date: Dec 2017 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2015161530103