17-S-06: Close Call With an ATV and Large Stick


On a summer morning in the south, a landowning company employee was riding down a company woods road on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and passing through an area that had been used as a loading deck.

The company employee was a natural resource professional in his 40s and was trained and experienced in field work. He was wearing safety glasses, gloves, hard hat, high-visibility vest and snakebite-protective boots.

As the employee drove slowly (3 to 5 miles per hour) through the former log deck area, he rode over one of the numerous sticks and limbs on the ground.

A large stick (approximately 1 inch thick and 2 feet long) kicked up behind the front tire and punctured the fender well. The stick quickly protruded through the front fender, brushed the employee’s leg and stopped as it contacted the rear fender.

The stick just missed the employee’s leg, so there was no injury. However, if the stick had come through the fender closer to seat of the ATV, it might have caused a serious leg injury as the stick rapidly pushed through the fender with great force.

Although ATVs are capable of handling most off-road conditions, care should be taken when crossing objects such as large sticks that could pop up and enter the machine or poke the ATV driver. The plastic fender wells are no match for a strong stick. Avoid driving over sticks or remove them first. Wearing gloves, work boots and safety glasses can provide partial protection in case dirt or other objects are kicked up by the ATV.

Reviewed by:
FRA Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer, Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager