In Canada, the leading cause of farm work-related deaths is tractor roll events, which account for 17% of all farm work-related deaths. In the period from 2003-2012, 143 Canadian farmers died in tractor rollover events. In 2004, agriculture-related injuries cost $465M. This includes costs arising from the use of health care and costs related to reduced productivity from hospitalization, disability, and premature death. A recent study of farm injuries conducted in Saskatchewan observed that 43% of tractors in use on farms did not have ROPS. There is no reason to believe that this situation does not exist in all provinces. Evidence from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and West Germany demonstrated that mandatory ROPS retrofitting and mandatory ROPS on all new tractors virtually eliminated fatal tractor rollover deaths. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the efficacy of ROPS in the prevention of death or serious injury in a tractor rollover event, North American farmers continue to cite the cost of retrofitting tractors with ROPS as one of the main deterrents to installing this safety feature on their tractors (Sorenson et al., 2006). An effort to devise easily available and affordable ROPS retrofits are clearly warranted.
This project would fill an existing commercial gap that has unfortunately resulted in approximately one-half of all tractors in Canada still being operated without rollover protective structures (ROPS). Farm fatalities from tractor rollovers are one of the major causes of death on the farm. The cost of commercial ROPS ($750 to $2,000) discourages farmers from buying ROPS for older tractors (as these older tractors have a value of only about $2,000). Previous studies by the highly respected USA organizations, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), as well as the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) and other researchers indicated that many commercial ROPS exceed farmer’s purchase price point and that the costs associated with a commercial process such as transportation, markup, and fabricator’s labour, result in a prohibitive ROPS cost for older tractors. Lower-cost ROPS that are built directly in the farm shop would significantly decrease the costs and increase the uptake and usage of ROPS by farmers. An intervention model where engineered ROPS fabrication design drawings were provided to farms for local fabrication is a very promising option as it could reduce the ROPS to an acceptable cost of about $250.
PAMI completed a four-year research program under the Canadian AgriSafety Applied Science Program to determine if it is feasible to design ROPS that could be properly built by farmers. A successful design was developed that fits Massey Ferguson models T035, 35, 130, 135, 150, 230, and 235. While the results of that project are very promising and the opportunity is great, several questions still need to be addressed for such a program to be successful. While the project is not complete, several key questions seem to be resolved: (1) ROPS can be designed such that high stresses will not be at the welds; (2) farmers are capable of easily building quality low-cost ROPS on their farm from engineered drawings; and (3) there appears to a process where ROPS can be certified by qualified engineers to meet provincial regulatory requirements. Based on the successes of the current project, there is considerable opportunity to continue research in this area to define the parameters for a national ROPS program, as described in the next section.
Note that this project will very nicely complement a project being proposed by CASA that is focused on improving access to and uptake from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM ) and after-market (independent manufacturers) ROPS. The CASA program is modelled after an approach taken in some USA states to subsidize the cost of these manufactured ROPS. These USA programs are placing some ROPS on tractors, but there is a significant associated cost. The combination of these two projects would provide Canadian farmers with a comprehensive program to effectively address the gap in ROPS on Canadian farm tractors and pave the way to a National Program.
Aims of Project
Overall Aim: The primary objective of this project is to conduct an extensive pilot rollout project on low-cost, farmer-built ROPS that would define the parameters required for a National ROPS Program. It will build off the results from the current low-cost ROPS project, which are finalizing three breakthroughs: ROPS can be designed such that high stresses will not be at the welds, farmers are capable of easily building quality ROPS on their farm for approximately $200, and these ROPS can be certified by qualified engineers to meet provincial regulatory requirements.
Specific Objectives: This proposed project would develop 3 more ROPS designs, develop a website that allows farmers to access ROPS fabrication drawings, promote the website, enact a social awareness and fundraising campaign, and ensure that over 100 ROPS were built, certified, and installed on older Canadian farm tractors. This four-year pilot project would initiate the momentum to establish a long-term national program.
For further information about this project, please contact Program Manager Nadia Smith at 306-966-1648 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian Agriculture Injury Reporting (CAIR), Agricultural Fatalities in Canada, 2016. CAIR: University of Alberta. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.cair-sbac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CASA-CAIR-Report-English-FINAL-Web.pdf
SMARTRISK (2010). The economic burden of injury within the agricultural population in Canada. SMARTRISK: Toronto, ON (unpublished).
Sorenson, J.A., May, J.J., Jenkins, P.H., Jones, A., and Earle-Richardson, G. (2006). Risk perceptions, barriers, and motivators to tractor ROPS retrofitting in New York state farmers. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 12(3): 315-26.
Springfeldt, B. (1996). Rollover of tractors-international experiences. Safety Science 24(2):95-110
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