Proceedings of the National Institute for Farm Safety (NIFS) Annual Conference, June 26-30, 2005, Wintergreen, Virginia. Columbus, OH: National Institute for Farm Safety, 2005 Jun; :1-19
Even in the 21st century, farming remains a challenging and sometimes dangerous industry. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that from 1992-2001 over 1000 U.S. workers died due to tractor overturns. A rollover protective structure (ROPS) and seatbelt is an effective engineering control that is 99 percent effective in preventing tractor overturn-related fatalities. As of 2001, it was estimated that 50 percent of all U.S. tractors were equipped with ROPS. With an average tractor age of 26 years and a typical ROPS cost (with installation) of $1000 USD, cost can be a substantial barrier to retrofitting a ROPS to a tractor. Technical barriers also exist to retrofitting ROPS to tractors. Some of the most popular tractors used in the U.S. were manufactured before 1976, and therefore, are not governed by the OSHA regulation which moved manufacturers to produce tractors designed to have ROPS. The rear axle housings of these pre-1976, or pre-ROPS tractors were not typically designed to accommodate a ROPS. However, Ayers and Liu (2001) have shown that many pre-ROPS tractors do have sufficient axle housing strength to support structural loading induced during consensus standard performance testing. Retrofit ROPS have been made available for some pre-ROPS tractors by either the tractor manufacturer or a third party. But for some tractor models, a retrofit ROPS is not available. Harris et aI. (2002) have demonstrated the technical feasibility of a "cost-effective" ROPS, or CROPS, to pass the loading requirements of a consensus performance standard. A CROPS is a weld-free construction using common structural elements and fasteners. As a secondary benefit, it can be assembled by one person. A ROPS manufacturer estimated that a prototype CROPS could be fabricated and sold for $290 USD. Shipping costs vary by destination location, but the same ROPS manufacturer estimated the highest shipping cost for the 48 contiguous states to be $193 USD (2003). In 2003, NIOSH and FEMCO, Inc., a ROPS manufacturer, entered into a co11aboration to transfer CROPS techniques to industry. This paper details the co11aboration and provides a progress update on CROPS commercialization.