Tractor rollover incidents are the leading cause of farm-related deaths. And while there are a number of ways farmers could prevent overturns, installing a rollover protection structure, also called a ROPS, remains the best way to prevent injury or death on a tractor. Here are five reasons to install one.
Most farmers think it will never happen to them. But even if you abide by every safety protocol – remaining focused, not going too fast, and keeping young children out of the way – rollover incidents can, and do, happen.
Too many lives have changed in an instant.
Five reasons why you should install a Rollover protection structure
1. It will save your life
A tractor can weigh over 10,000 pounds. You are no match for it.
Your ROPS is.
ROPS are bars attached to the frame, so, in the event of a rollover, there’s enough space for the operator so he or she can avoid getting crushed.
Every tractor manufactured from1985 forward has a ROPS, but those built before then should be retrofitted.
Just ask Jerry Minor, the chief of the Pittsville Fire Company in central Wisconsin, who has responded to several tractor overturns.
“In my opinion there is no better public safety intervention than a rollover protection system on a tractor,” he said.
Cheryl Skjolaas, UW Extension’s Ag Safety Specialist, agrees.
“We work so hard on the farm and this is a proven technology that can save you in case of an overturn,” she says. “You don’t want to say ‘if only.’ ‘If only I had put on the ROPS and my seatbelt. If only I could have prevented this.’”
2. It will save your child’s life
While your child may be ready to drive a tractor, he or she is still relatively inexperienced. All it takes is some uneven terrain for an incident to change their life – and yours – forever.
We understand that children riding tractors early on may be entrenched in Wisconsin farm family tradition.
But whether your teenager is riding by his or herself, or sitting next to you as you drive, be sure they are wearing their seat belts and that the tractor has a ROPS attached. It’s not worth the risk.
“Especially if you have children, employees or loved ones operating [the tractor], wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to prevent injury or loss of life?” Cheryl says.
For more tips on how to keep your children safe on tractors, visit our farm safety page.
3. It’s effective
When paired with a seatbelt, a ROPS is 99 percent effective in preventing injuries and death, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Without a seatbelt, Tammy Ellis of the National Farm Medicine Center says the ROPS is 75 percent effective – still a significant percentage, although you increase your risk of being thrown from the tractor, where the ROPS won’t protect you.
Ellis has been focused on injury prevention for 10 years.
“ROPS will save your life,” she says.
4. You can receive a 70 percent rebate
The National Farm Medicine Center’s ROPS Retrofit Program launched in 2006 in order to increase its access among New York farmers. The successful program expanded to six states since, including Wisconsin.
The rebate provides up to 70 percent of the cost of purchase, shipping and installation up to $865.
According to Ellis, the cost usually adds up to about $300 for farmers. However, cost is still one of the main reasons farmers hesitate to purchase and install a ROPS, she says.
“When I hear this, I ask, what is a life worth?” Ellis says. “Three hundred dollars is nothing compared to an injury in the case of an overturn.”
To receive your rebated ROPS, call the ROPS hotline (1-877-ROPS-R4U or 1-877-767-7748) or visit www.ropsr4u.com to register.
Hotline staff will research all ROPS options for your tractor’s make and model, as well as provide estimated costs and sources for purchasing a ROPS.
For more information on this process, click here.
So, what’s stopping you? Protect yourself – and your family – today. Install a ROPS on your tractors. Contact your Rural Mutual Insurance agent to learn more about farm safety.