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Nationwide News: ROPS and rollovers, lifesavers and life-takers
Buckeye Farm News
Tractor rollover accidents are among the most frequent causes of farm fatalities. Rollovers also result in serious injuries that leave farmers disabled and many farm families in dire straits.
Yet according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), half of the 4.7 million tractors in use today don’t have the one device that can prevent rollover deaths. ROPS, or rollover protective structures, create a protective zone around tractor operators that can prevent deaths and serious injuries when rollovers occur.
Nationwide Agribusiness, whose farm insurance is endorsed by OFBF, advises that rollovers occur more frequently than many people realize. On average, one of every 10 tractor operators will overturn a tractor.
ROPS have proven to be extremely effective when tractors flip. There are an estimated 2,000 ROPS-equipped overturns a year, with no data to suggest these rollovers resulted in fatalities. When ROPS and seat belts are used together, they are estimated to be 99 percent effective in preventing deaths or serious injury.
The three types of ROPs available — a two-post frame (with solid fold-down versions), a four-post frame, and a ROPS with an enclosed cab — all perform the same duty, providing a protective zone that can save a human life.
Like airbags in cars, ROPS on tractors are designed and certified to withstand only one rollover. So if a tractor overturns, the ROPS should be replaced immediately. ROPS also should be inspected regularly for signs of rust or cracks, as these could cause a structural failure during a rollover. Altering a ROPS by drilling into or welding onto the frame can weaken its ability to hold up in a rollover. Pulling or towing with a ROPS can result in a rear overturn.
Nationwide Ag recommends that older model tractors should be retrofitted with a ROPS based on manufacturers’ specifications. ROPS for many older and smaller tractors often can be purchased for $600 or less. Homemade ROPS are not recommended because they can easily fail if not designed, built or installed according to precise specifications of the manufacturer.
While many farmers do not wear tractor seat belts, and the best protection comes from the ROPS-seatbelt combination, a ROPS alone can still provide considerable life-saving defense in rollovers. So be sure to equip or retrofit with the ROPS that’s right for your tractor.
For a no-cost policy review and Nationwide Agribusiness farm insurance consultation, contact a Nationwide agent, or locate one near you at www.nationwide.com/ofbf.