Iowa State University professor Charles Schwab says it is something that can be fixed. “I’m sure I sound like a broken record to some — but we need to start using tractors with rollover protective structures. This is so key,” Schwab says. “The vast majority of the fatalities that we see in Iowa are on tractors without rollover protective structures (ROPS).”
He says the evidence of their importance is pretty clear. “We have not recorded a tractor rollover fatality on a tractor with ROPS. All of them that we’ve seen in Iowa are without ROPS. To me, you can’t get any clearer a message,” Schwab says.
Schwab says the cost of retrofitting tractors is often given as an excuse for not doing it. “There’s a lot of buzz about the cost — but I don’t see that as the real hang up — and I think that a lot of farmers have agreed,” he says. “If they want to get it done, they are going to get it done. And they are not inexpensive, but at the same time, there are options out there that make it cheaper.”
Schwab believes there’s something else that’s keeping ROPS from being used on older tractors. “It’s a cultural shift that we have these old tractors that are reliable, been in service for years and years and it’s hard to let them go and not be used in some capacity,” according to Schwab. “And I think that’s where we see so much of it. All the new equipment since 1985 have ROPS on it.”
Schwab says the type of work done with tractors can be dangerous, and not having the best safety equipment makes it worse for older tractors.