This week agricultural safety experts from around the U.S. are gathering at Utah State University to announce the launch of the National ROPS (rollover protection system) Rebate Program. With tractors being the leading cause of death on American farms; it’s been found that rollover protection is 99 percent effective in preventing injury and death in the event of an overturn.
After tremendous success with ROPS rebate programs in seven states and demand for the program from farmers everywhere, a cadre of national experts, the National Tractor Safety Coalition (NTSC), has been working for more than a year to build and fund a national program.
“Every year, about 27 of every 100,000 American farmers die on the job, mostly due to tractor overturns” says Julie Sorensen, PhD, director of the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NEC), which started the first comprehensive ROPS rebate program in New York in 2006.
The NEC helps administer the state-based programs with the NTSC and in-state partner organizations and will oversee the national program. Sorensen adds, “We are grateful to Farm Family/American National Insurance for providing the $30,000 in seed money. With continuing donations from corporations, foundations, and others, we hope to be able to offer farmers in every state the opportunity to receive hot line assistance and financial support for much of the cost of installing a rollbar system on an existing unprotected tractor.”
In 2016, Minnesota became the seventh state to adopt a ROPS rebate program one decade after the first program was established in New York. Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts also participate. More than 2,300 tractors have been made safe by the program and the NEC has documented an impressive number of participants whose lives have been saved as a direct result of the program.
“With increasing use of ROPS on tractors we are seeing fewer accidents and fatalities,” explains Brad Husberg, MSPH, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of Agriculture Safety and Health in Anchorage, Alaska. NIOSH helped fund the early research that indicated the ROPS rebate program would help save lives on American farms.
“This is a very effective program for a lot of reasons,” Husberg adds. “Our research data shows the ROPS tractor safety program has made farm work less dangerous.”
Details of the program will be shared during the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) meeting at Utah State University in Logan on Wednesday, June 28. Farmers may visit www.ROPSr4u.org or call 1-877-ROPS-r4u (1-877-767-7748) to enroll in the program, which provides a rebate of 70 percent, up to $875. On average, past participants’ costs have been about $391.