Rollover protective structures (ROPS)

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Date last updated

Rollover protective structures (ROPS) are metal bars (i.e., rollbars), frames, or crush proof cabs on tractors and other farm equipment designed to provide a safety zone for an operator in the event of a rollover or overturn1. Since 1985, a national voluntary standard has made ROPS standard equipment on all new tractors. Retrofits are available for many older tractors but can be prohibitively expensive. Frames for ROPS retrofit must pass static or dynamic crush tests to ensure ability to withstand loads and impact2. ROPS are also used on commercial riding lawn mowers3.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that rollover protective structures (ROPS) reduce agricultural fatalities and injuries from tractor overturns when used with a seatbelt4, 5, 6, 7.

Tractor overturn fatality rates are highest in states where ROPS are least widely used7. As use of ROPS has increased, tractor overturn fatality rates have decreased4. A study of New York’s ROPS Retrofit Program indicates that ROPS retrofits reduce tractor overturns and the risk of fatalities and injuries5. The effectiveness of ROPS is limited when drivers do not wear seat belts4; seatbelt use further decreases injuries and fatalities6, 8. A foldable ROPS must be in the upright and pinned position to provide protection during a tractor overturn9.

A survey of ROPS adoption in the U.S. indicates that younger farmers and farms with $100,000 or more of farm product sales are most likely to use ROPS-equipped tractors10. An Iowa-based farm survey indicates that farms with hills or ditches are more likely to retrofit tractors with ROPS; concerns about storage and time required for retrofitting are less likely to affect ROPS adoption11. Some researchers suggest incentives to encourage farmers to install ROPS12. A New York state social marketing campaign incorporating ROPS rebates, messages, and other promotional activities increased ROPS sales13 and positively influenced readiness and intention to retrofit tractors14. An Australia-based study suggests mandatory tractor retrofit legislation combined with a rebate program can increase the number of ROPS equipped tractors but may not directly impact fatalities15.

Rollbar retrofit prices vary based on tractor model, from approximately $150 to $5,900. A ROPS kit with a rebate from the National ROPS Rebate Program costs an average of $3911. A cost-effectiveness study of the New York ROPS retrofit program indicates that $1.78 million in program investment can generate savings of approximately $14 million in reduced fatality and injury-related costs over 15 years5.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines require an approved ROPS for all agricultural tractors operated by employees9. As of August 2019, the National ROPS Rebate Program, funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), provides individual applicants with an up to 70% rebate for the cost of a ROPS retrofit kit (including rollbar and seatbelt), shipping, and professional installation in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Minnesota: ROPS kits are required to meet appropriate national or international standards and include seatbelts1. The NIOSH Division of Safety Research and Protective Technology Branch developed a Cost-Effective Rollover Protective Structure (CROPS) for four old tractor models that lack commercially available ROPS16.

Implementation Resources

ROPSR4U - National ROPS Rebate Program. Retrofit your tractor.

CDC-CROPS - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cost-effective rollover protective structures (CROPS).

OSHA-Ag safety tractor - U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Agricultural safety fact sheet: Protecting agricultural workers from tractor hazards.

OSHA-Tractor safety for youth - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Youth in agriculture: Tractors.

eXtension-ROPS - The Farm & Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health Community of Practice (eXtension). Rollover protective structures (ROPS).


* Journal subscription may be required for access.

1 ROPSR4U - National ROPS Rebate Program. Retrofit your tractor.

2 IA Extension-ROPS - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (IA Extension). Use tractors with ROPS to save lives - Safe farm.

3 OSHA-Riding mowers - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Dangers of roll-overs of riding mowers.

4 Reynolds 2000 - Reynolds SJ, Groves W. Effectiveness of roll-over protective structures in reducing farm tractor fatalities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2000;18(4 Suppl 1):63-9.

5 Myers 2018 - Myers M, Kelsey T, Tinc P, et al. Rollover protective structures, worker safety, and cost-effectiveness: New York, 2011–2017. American Journal of Public Health. 2018;108(11):1517-1522.

6 Myers 2009 - Myers ML, Cole HP, Westneat SC. Injury severity related to overturn characteristics of tractors. Journal of Safety Research. 2009;40(2):165-170.

7 Hard 2011 - Hard DL, Myers JR. Adoption of rollover protective structures (ROPS) on U.S. farm tractors by state: 1993-1995, 2001, and 2004. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 2011;17(2):157-72.

8 Alkhaledi 2013 - Alkhaledi K, Means K, McKenzie E, Smith J. Reducing occupational fatalities by using NIOSH 3rd generation automatically deployable rollover protective structure. Safety Science. 2013;51(1):427-431.

9 eXtension-ROPS - The Farm & Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health Community of Practice (eXtension). Rollover protective structures (ROPS).

10 Loringer 2008 - Loringer KA, Myers JR. Tracking the prevalence of rollover protective structures on U.S. farm tractors: 1993, 2001, and 2004. Journal of Safety Research. 2008;39(5):509-517.

11 Schwab 2019 - Schwab CV, Arbuckle JG, Hanna HM. Barriers and motivators for tractor ROPS retrofitting in Iowa. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 2019;25(1):1-9.

12 Murphy 2010 - Murphy DJ, Myers J, McKenzie EA, et al. Tractors and rollover protection in the United States. Journal of Agromedicine. 2010;15(3):249-63.

13 Sorensen 2008 - Sorensen JA, May J, Ostby-Malling R, et al. Encouraging the installation of rollover protective structures in New York State: The design of a social marketing intervention. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2008;36(8):859-69.

14 Sorensen 2011 - Sorensen JA, Jenkins PL, Emmelin M, et al. The social marketing of safety behaviors: A quasi-randomized controlled trial of tractor retrofitting incentives. American Journal of Public Health. 2011;101(4):678-84.

15 Jones 2013a - Jones CB, Day L, Staines C. Trends in tractor related fatalities among adults working on farms in Victoria, Australia, 1985–2010. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2013;50:110-114.

16 CDC-CROPS - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cost-effective rollover protective structures (CROPS).