A leading cause of Iowa farm fatalities is tractors not equipped with rollover protective structures (ROPS). About a third of all reported agricultural deaths in Iowa are attributed to this single safety hazard. Rollovers are also known to represent the largest share of these tragic losses across the country in the ag industry.
“Even more distressing is knowing that seven of 10 farms will go out of business within five years of a tractor overturn fatality,” says Charles Schwab, professor of ag engineering and Extension safety specialist at Iowa State University.
The week of Sept. 20 marked the 77th observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week. This year’s National Farm Safety Week theme, “Every farmer counts,” gives Iowans the opportunity to be counted as someone that used a tractor with ROPS and made a safe choice.
All agricultural tractors built since 1985 have ROPS as part of their original equipment, but there are too many older tractors without ROPS being used during harvesttime, Schwab says. You should look for the two- or four-post ROPS, or a decal identifying the integrated ROPS cab before operating any tractor this fall.
“There are many reasons why some tractors don’t have ROPS and why Iowa farmers haven’t considered retrofitting ROPS,” he says, “but none of those reasons can offset the risk to the tractor operator’s life.”
Increase odds of survival
Schwab says ROPS are designed and tested to keep the tractor operator from being crushed by the weight of the tractor as it rolls. The addition of ROPS also keeps a tractor from rotating more than 90 degrees during most rollover events.
All known Iowa tractor overturn fatalities have occurred on tractors without ROPS. Schwab’s advice: “Increase your odds of survival during this harvest season by choosing to use only tractors equipped with ROPS.”