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Farming work exempt from proposed Alberta helmet law


Farmers and ranchers at work would be exempt from a proposed new law requiring off-highway vehicle (OHV) users to wear helmets while operating on public land in Alberta.

Provincial Transportation Minister Brian Mason on Monday announced proposed amendments to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act that would require recreational users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, motorcycles, amphibious vehicles and other such OHVs to wear helmets on public land.

The amendments Mason tabled Monday wouldn’t require the use of helmets for farming and ranching work, the province said. Certain provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code call for workers who ride OHVs to wear helmets, but farm and ranch work would continue to be exempt.

The proposed amendments would also specifically exempt private property, in step with existing OHV laws under the Traffic Safety Act. The amendments would also exempt First Nations and Metis Settlement lands, the province said.

For the purposes of these amendments, “private” property refers to land owned by an OHV’s operator, or land owned by someone who has given permission to an OHV operator to ride there. “Public land” means Crown land or areas designated for public OHV use, public roadways and highway rights-of-way.

The proposed amendments would also allow for future exemptions to be made via regulations, the province said — for example, for operators of OHVs fitted with rollover protection structures and seat belts.

“The Traffic Safety Act amendments being proposed could make future helmet use decisions easier for our youth, as legislation becomes an additional encouragement to make safe personal choices,” Laura Nelson, executive director of the Raymond, Alta.-based Farm Safety Centre, said in the province’s release.

“We support the amendments being proposed and are hopeful they will be passed into law.”

During consultations in September, the province said, about 65 per cent of over 2,200 participants agreed helmets should be required for everyone riding an OHV.

The province saw 185 fatalities from ATV-related injuries between 2002 and 2013. Of those, the province said, nearly 80 per cent involved people not wearing helmets. The province estimated it sees almost 6,000 OHV-related emergency room visits per year. –– Network

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