Agriculture & Natural Resources
Put a ROPS on that tractor Source: Dr. Mark Purschwitz; UK Ag Engineering
Tractor rollovers (overturns) are still the single most common fatal farm-related accident in the United States.
Every year, nearly 100 farmers, farm workers, or farm family members die in a tractor rollover. Since many non-farmers also own tractors, they are at risk as well.
The only way to protect an operator during a tractor rollover is having a ROPS (Roll Over Protective Structure) on the tractor, either in the form of a ROPS frame (roll bar) on an open station tractor, or a ROPS cab. Most cab tractors manufactured since the early 1970s have ROPS cabs, which are cabs with frames designed and tested to engineering standards to withstand crushing during a rollover. ROPS frames are also tested to these standards. However, it was not until 1985 that ROPS became standard equipment on tractors sold in the U.S., so about half of the four million tractors on U.S. farms lack ROPS.
If you have an older tractor lacking ROPS, the right thing to do is retrofit a ROPS. Unfortunately, retrofit ROPS are not available for all tractors so the first thing to do is contact a dealer for that brand of tractor. A ROPS supplied by the manufacturer of the tractor is typically your best choice; in some cases, a ROPS can be obtained via the regular dealer parts system. However, there are aftermarket suppliers of ROPs who may have ROPS for older tractors that the tractor manufacturer does not offer. You can check by going to the Kentucky ROPS Guide online: http://rops.ca.uky.edu/ and searching for your tractor make and model. Remember, this information is always subject to change, so you can also contact these aftermarket suppliers directly if you do not see your tractor – a list of suppliers is in the guide.
Remember that a ROPS may look simple, but is in fact a carefully engineered and tested piece of equipment that is certified by the ROPS manufacturer to meet performance standards. A ROPS must absorb a certain amount of energy without crushing, must work in all temperatures without cracking, must be properly attached to the tractor with hardened bolts torqued to specifications, and yet still not transfer enough energy to the axle housings to break them.
A ROPS is not something to be fabricated at home or by a local welding shop.
A ROPS also comes with a seat belt. This must be mounted to a seat that can withstand the forces on the seatbelt as specified in ROPS standards. Although a ROPS without a seatbelt is much better than no ROPS at all, the seatbelt keeps the operator in the zone of protection during a more violent rollover or other event, such as a roadway collision. Getting hit by a car or truck can roll a tractor over or cause the operator to be ejected.
A National ROPS Rebate Program has been started to help tractor owners pay for retrofit ROPS on a state-by-state basis. In a few states, the legislature has provided some funding for rebates, but in most states, like Kentucky, the funding comes from donations. More information on the importance of ROPS and the ROPS rebate program is available at this web site: https://www.ropsr4u.com/.
A ROPS is like a life insurance policy – you own it but hope you never need it. That’s what insurance is all about. You have property insurance on your home or farm but hope you never need it. You have car insurance on your vehicles but hope you never need it. A ROPS is life insurance to save a life during a tractor rollover. It just makes good sense.