Farm tractor rollovers a deadly problem

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tractor rollovers are the single deadliest type of injury incident on farms and it is reported that of the 4.7 million tractors in the U.S. today alone, one-half of them are without rollover protection for the operator. A tractor can turn over suddenly and if it is not equipped with a 'Rollover Protection Structure' (ROPS) and a seatbelt, there is a good chance the tractor could crush the driver.

ROPS are compartment structures (usually cabs or frames) intended to protect equipment operators from injuries caused by vehicle overturns.

Retrofitting older tractors with a ROPS creates a protective zone around the operator when a rollover occurs. When used with a seatbelt, which is recommended, the ROPS will prevent the operators from being thrown from the protective zone and crushed from an overturning tractor, or from equipment mounted or hooked to the tractor.

One of the most common causes of death and serious injury on farms is related to the heavy equipment required to run a farm.

A high number of farming fatalities are due to tractor turnovers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the ag industry has the highest rate of occupational fatalities, about 32 per 100,000 employed people or eight times the national average. Federal officials note that the elimination of overturn fatalities could result in more than $100 million in annual savings.

There are three types of ROPS frames available -- a two-post frame; a four-post frame and an enclosed ROPS cab. There are even foldable ROPS available for those tractors that are housed in smaller spaces. The cost runs around $765. Many programs have been developed to not only help farmers find ROPS, but also provide rebates to offset some of the cost.

National Ag Safety Database figures show that the use of ROPS and a seat belt is estimated to be 99 percent effective in preventing death or serious injury in the event of a tractor rollover.

Makes sense to us.