Adding rollover protection would be a great winter shop project

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Adding rollover protection would be a great winter shop project

Mon, 12/27/2010

Rollover protection systems (ROPS) save lives. When ROPS are used with seat belts, 99 percent of tractor drivers survive rollover accidents. And, even if the seat belt isn’t worn, 70 percent of drivers live to tell about the accident report researchers in a recent USA Today article titled, “Tractor upgrades cut deaths.”

Based on Hoard’s Dairyman readership studies, the average dairy farm owns 5.3 tractors. Nearly every dairy farm has one, two, or maybe even more tractors that predate the farm manufacturers’ voluntary safety program which began in 1985. That manufacturer program placed a ROPS on every tractor leaving the assembly line. While the program was an effective starting point, it leaves many functional, older tractors without the life-saving device. In many cases, those tractors still have long careers in front of them because they have sentimental value to the farm as a long-time workhorse or even hold a special place because it was Grandpa’s favorite tractor. Whatever the case, those tractors are potential death traps and could be made safer for all those involved for about a $1,100 investment in safety equipment.

Nationally, rollover accidents are on the decline. That’s because more tractors have ROPS, and more youth are taking tractor safety courses. Death rates have dropped from 5.5 deaths per 100,000 workers in 1992 to 3.6 in 2007 in a study undertaken by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The number of people killed in tractor rollovers remains the highest in the Midwest (6.83) and Northeast (6.81). Some researchers suggest the rolling terrain is a reason for higher death rates. Another likely reason is the fact there are more older tractors that lack ROPS still being used in farming operations in these regions. According to Julie Soresen with the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health, New England states, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia share the highest tractor-overturn fatality rates. Death rates are the lowest in the West (1.4).

Click here to view the USA Today article “Tractor upgrades cut deaths”