Rollover protective structures (ROPS)

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 overturn (ROPSR4U). 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 impact (IA Extension-ROPS). ROPS are also used on commercial riding lawn mowers (OSHA-Riding mowers).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries

Evidence of Effectiveness

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

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

A survey of ROPS adoption in the US indicates that younger farmers and farms with $100,000 or more of farm product sales are most likely to use ROPS-equipped tractors (). 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 adoption (). Some researchers suggest incentives to encourage farmers to install ROPS (). A New York state social marketing campaign incorporating ROPS rebates, messages, and other promotional activities increased ROPS sales () and positively influenced readiness and intention to retrofit tractors (). 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 fatalities ().

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 $391 (ROPSR4U). 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 years ().

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines require an approved ROPS for all agricultural tractors operated by employees (eXtension-ROPS). 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 seatbelts (ROPSR4U). 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 ROPS (CDC-CROPS).

Implementation Resources

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

ROPSR4U - National ROPS Rebate Program. Retrofit your tractor.

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

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

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

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

ROPSR4U - National ROPS Rebate Program. Retrofit your tractor.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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

ROPSR4U - National ROPS Rebate Program. Retrofit your tractor.

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

Date Last Updated

Sep 4, 2019