Don Tetreault of Champlain, N.Y., lived to share a hard-learned lesson: "When my tractor flipped over, I broke all the ribs on one side. I had tractor tracks on my back when they pulled me out.
"I couldn't work for months and almost lost the family farm, and I was one of the lucky ones." Since that time, Tetreault has retrofitted all Hidden View Farm's tractors with rollover protection systems.
His is a fitting testimony to the importance of the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health's rebate campaign for retrofitting ROPS on tractors. Now in its third year, the NYCAMH program has fitted 565 tractors – including Tetreault's.
"Our campaign has increased by ten-fold the number of farmers making their tractors safe by retrofitting them with rollover protection systems," says Dr. John May, director of NYCAMH. "This is important because a farmer's risk of dying on the job is 800% higher than that of the average American worker."
ROPS safety value
Tetreault is still painfully aware of the cost of not having ROPS protection. And, as he says, "I was lucky!" Tractor overturns are the primary cause of these fatal and permanently crippling injuries.
In the event of a rollover, the ROPS and seatbelt reduces that risk by 99%. Tractors built after 1985 have built-in rollover protection. But most tractors in use today are still older than that.
Thanks to support from the N.Y.S. legislature, the rebate and financial assistance program is still available, says May. "It's especially important in this economic climate," he adds.
The average out-of-pocket cost to farmers is just $380 compared in many cases to nearly $1,000 before the ROPS program. The rebate amounts to 70% of the purchase and installation cost of an approved rollbar and seatbelt, up to $765.
By calling the "ROPS-R4U" hotline (1-877-767-7748), farmers can receive information on the program and allow hotline staff to do the legwork. In addition to saving farmers money, the ROPS program is specifically designed to reduce the hassle of retrofitting a tractor.
Or visit with a NYCAMH representative at New York State Farm Show in Syracuse, Feb. 26-28. You'll find them in the International Building at exhibit 240.