(Canadian OH&S News) — A safety-crew member with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) in Norwalk, Ohio suffered a broken collarbone, a slight concussion and a few bruises and scrapes on July 5, after his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rolled over during a drag-racing event near Edmonton.
“The great news is, he’s okay,” said Colin Huggins, general manager of Castrol Raceway, the racetrack in Nisku, Alberta where the accident had happened. Although the venue had called for an air-rescue helicopter to send the worker to the University of Alberta Hospital, Huggins added, “he walked out of the hospital. He was at his hotel for dinner the next day.”
The incident took place shortly before 8:00 p.m. during the Nitro Jam Rocky Mountain Nationals, an annual international racing event at Castrol. The employee was driving the ATV, chasing down a track racer to make sure that the latter was okay, when he over-steered the vehicle and rolled it. Huggins confirmed that the worker had not been wearing a safety helmet.
News reports have stated that the injured worker was 41 years old. No name has been released.
The oh&s department of Alberta Human Services was contacted after the incident. Brookes Merritt, spokesperson for the department, said it would not be investigating the accident, which did not qualify as a “reportable” incident for oh&s authorities because the victim had not been hospitalized for 48 hours or longer.
“And if it sounds like he was treated for concussion and released, then it doesn’t surprise me that it doesn’t meet our threshold for reportable,” said Merritt, adding that the worker had already flown back to the United States and rejoined the Rocky Mountain Nationals tour.
Both Merritt and Huggins noted the irony that the employee was a safety professional, yet had not worn a proper helmet while on the job. “What a shame,” Huggins said, explaining that as an employee of the IHRA, the worker had not been subject to Castrol’s safety standards. “The people that we partner with — the IHRA — they’re here on a work visa,” he said. “So they have their own sets of safety and regulation.”
Higgins added that Castrol required all of its racers to wear helmets and typically reviewed accidents such as this. “When we think, ‘What could we do better next time?’ my assurance to you is that helmet inclusion for the IHRA racers will be our request, for sure.”
He reiterated that the safety of everyone involved was the top priority at Castrol. “We do our due diligence, and we do what is morally and politically correct and keep everybody safe,” he said. “Our fans are our first thought, our workers are second and our drivers are third. Not to put them in buckets of importance, but obviously, the drivers choose to do this; they’re at inherent risk at high speed.”
As unfortunate as the July 5 incident was, Huggins said, it was great news that the IHRA worker had not been more seriously injured — and the incident could serve as an opportunity for Castrol to reinforce its high safety standards.
“It creates an opportunity for us to say, ‘Look, you know, it’s just a requirement. You’ve got to have a helmet on.’”