Rollover Protection on New York Tractors and Farmers' Readiness for Change

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • May, John J.;
  • Earle-Richardson, Giulia;
  • Burdick, Patrick A.;
  • Jenkins, Paul;
  • Sorensen, Julie A.


Tractor overturns contribute significantly to fatalities in New York State agriculture. On-site inspections a decade ago indicated that approximately 60% of tractors were without effective rollover protection. Our objectives were: to describe the current prevalence and distribution of rollover protective structures (ROPS) on New York farm tractors, to identify characteristics associated with the absence of ROPS, to explore segmenting the New York farm community on readiness for ROPS retrofitting, and to identify demographic characteristics that might assist in this segmenting. A random selection of 644 livestock, dairy, fruit, cash crop, vegetable, and organic farms were contacted for a telephone survey. Of 562 farms (87%) participating, 102 (18.1%) had all tractors equipped with ROPS and 138 (24.6%) had none. A disproportionate number of livestock, cash crop, and organic operations had no ROPS. Rates of ROPS-equipped tractors correlated directly with farm size and annual hours of tractor operation. Older farmers had a lower proportion of ROPS tractors. The presence of a child operator did not affect the proportion of ROPS tractors. After weighting the sample, the total number of non-ROPS tractors in New York is estimated at more than 80,000. In addition to providing key farm demographics, the survey enabled placement of farmers on a “stage of change” continuum related to readiness for retrofitting. Three-quarters of New York farmers are in the “precontemplation” stage of change relative to ROPS retrofitting, and this varies little by size of operation, age of farmer, or the presence of child tractor operators. Stage of change may relate to hours of tractor operation (p = 0.05) and does relate to commodity (p = 0.003) due primarily to the higher proportion of crop farmers in the earliest stage of change. The goal of retrofitting all New York farm tractors with ROPS appears nearly as daunting as it did a decade ago.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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