DID YOU KNOW...
Tractor overturns are the leading cause of fatal injuries on US farms, resulting in an average of about 130 deaths each year.
1 in 10 operators overturn a tractor in his or her lifetime.
80% of deaths caused by tractor overturns involve experienced operators.
Tractor overturns are costly.
Safe operating techniques reduce the risk of overturns.
ROPS reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of an overturn.
Because of their high center of gravity, tractors are more susceptible to rolling or turning over than vehicles like passenger cars and trucks, which have a low center of gravity.
While all tractor operators are at risk of overturning a tractor, highest rates of fatalities occur
The most frequent causes of tractor-related deaths are side and rear overturns. The vehicles typically involved in these incidents are older tractors that are not equipped with Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS).
ROPS are roll bar or cage frames that are designed specifically for tractors to create a zone of protection around the operator in the event that the tractor overturns. ROPS do not prevent rollovers from occurring; most rollovers result from tractor speed, operator error, or unsafe driving conditions. But in the event of an overturn, ROPS may limit the degree of rollover to 90 degrees.
ROPS are designed to be used in conjunction with seatbelts which keep the operator in place within the protective zone framed by the ROPS. Without a seatbelt, an operator may be thrown from the tractor and crushed by the tractor or the ROPS itself.
ROPS are 99% effective in preventing serious injury or death when used with a seatbelt.
ROPS became standard equipment on US-manufactured tractors in 1986, but many tractors manufactured before 1986 are still widely used on farms and unlikely to have been retrofitted with ROPS.
Contact your local implement dealer, extension office, and these websites for assistance in locating ROPS sources by make and model of most tractors built before 1986:
The Kentucky ROPS Guide NYCAMH ROPS Retrofit Program
Then have your ROPS and seatbelt installed professionally by an equipment dealer who has experience in installations and identifying potential problems.
If your tractor has a ROPS that is retractable, make sure to keep the ROPS in the upright position. ROPS that can be folded down must be left upright and locked at all times except when travelling through a low clearance environment.
ROPS are designed and engineered for specific tractor sizes and weights, and are crush-tested to meet industry standards designed to ensure they perform properly in an overturn. Fabricating or installing ROPS yourself may impart a false sense of security – when in reality there is no assurance that home-made or shop-made ROPS meet standards for all steel, fasteners, and joints which must be tested. Read more...
Be aware of terrain characteristics that may increase the risk of a rollover, including ditches, holes, slopes, and unstable ground near roadways or embankments.
Do not operate tractors without ROPS in the following scenarios that increase risk for overturns:
“I know how to control my tractor.”
“I will be able to bail out or jump off if I sense I’m in trouble.”
“It’s expensive / inconvenient to retrofit an older tractor.”
Rollover Protective Structure ROPS Retrofit Program. https://www.nycamhoutreach.com/ropsr4u/
Resources and references
National Ag Safety Database: topics on tractor overturns, ROPS and seatbelts.
The University of Kentucky College of Public Health. The Kentucky ROPS Guide.
NYCAMH ROPS Retrofit Program. http://ropsr4u.com/
National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative.
NASD Rollover Protection for Farm Tractor Operators.
ISU Extension Safe Farm: Use tractors with ROPS to save lives. PM 1265d revised 2013.
The Ohio State University. Ohio State University Extension publication AEX 192.1.56: Rollovers and Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS). 2006. http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-79032.
NIOSH Science Blog: Preventing Death and Injury in Tractor Overturns with Roll-over Protective Structures (ROPS). http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2009/01/rops/#comments
Cole H. 1997. Pause for thought: should you install a ROPS yourself? Lessons learned. https://www.nycamhoutreach.com/ropsr4u/public/documents/Pause-For-Thought-Should-You-Install-A-ROPS-Yourself-by-Henry-Cole.pdf
Fatality case investigations conducted by the NIOSH FACE Program. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/ Use the search box under Search FACE Reports to enter keywords such as tractor, overturn, ROPS, rollover, etc.)
Loringer K, Myers J. 2008. Tracking the prevalence of rollover protective structures on U.S. farm tractors: 1993, 2001, and 2004. J Safety Research, 39(5):509-17. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20034689.html
Myers J, Hendricks K. 2010. Agricultural tractor overturn deaths: Assessment of trends and risk factors. Am J Ind Med, 53(7):662-72. http://depts.washington.edu/trsafety/files/MyersJ_Trends.pdf
Voaklander D, Day L, Dosman J, Hagel L, Pickett W. 2012. Older farmers and machinery exposure-cause for concern? Am J Ind Med 55(11):1044-50. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22111/pdf
Great Plans Center for Agricultural Health
Promoting and Protecting the Safety and Health of Farm Workers and Their Families
The University of Iowa
College of Public Health,
Iowa City, Iowa
TR.OV Revised 1/2014
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More