One of the many dangers associated with tractors is a rollover. In fact, tractor rollover is the leading cause of death in the field of agriculture. If a tractor overturns sideways or flips over backwards, the operator can quite easily be injured or even killed. Tractors are naturally top heavy and the back half of the tractor accounts for most of the weight, making rollovers very possible. One way to help ensure your safety is to be extremely careful at all times. Another way to stay safe is to utilize your Rollover Protective Structure or ROPS.
Rollover Protection Structures are designed to keep a tractor operator safe during rollover events. They typically consist of roll cages and/or roll bars that, when used with a seatbelt, will hold the operator securely in place instead of allowing them to be potentially crushed by or pinned underneath the tractor. To utilize your ROPS and get the full benefit from it, always buckle your seat belt. The ROPS alone cannot keep you safe; it must work hand in hand with your seatbelt as that is what will hold you in the correct location for the ROPS to protect you.
If your tractor is not equipped with a ROPS, it is in your best interest to get one. However, with so many vintage tractors being used every day and their owners wanting to keep them original in appearance, it is understandable why adding a ROPS is low on the priority list. If you fall into this category and do not want to add a ROPS to your tractor for whatever reason, then you should consider skipping the seatbelt. In a rollover event on a tractor without a ROPS, if you are wearing a seatbelt you will not be protected and very well could end up pinned beneath the tractor. Without a ROPS cage to give you a protective cavity, you could actually be better off being thrown from the tractor as you have at least a possibility of landing clear versus being held in a compromised position by your seatbelt.
Taking measures to prevent rollovers is key whether or not you have a ROPS. Avoid taking turns too quickly as this can upset your balance; a slow down before a turn goes a long way when it comes to rollover prevention. If you have a heavy implement attached to the rear of your tractor use a counter weight on the front end to help even out your weight distribution. Raising your front end loader will alter your center of gravity, possibly encouraging a forward tip. Remember that if a tractor\'s rear wheels cannot turn that does not mean the axle cannot still move and flip the tractor upright or worse, over backwards. Uneven braking can also cause rollover, so be sure to lock your pedals before driving at high rates of speed.
There are many things to consider when it comes to rollover protection and avoidance. The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep your tractor under control at all times in all conditions, watching for obstructions and countering for changes in grade, as well as keeping your speed appropriate for the terrain. Use lower gears for traversing downhill, and always turn downhill if you are on a slope that becomes unstable.
If you remember nothing else, remember that human reaction time is no match for gravity. The time it takes you to realize you are in danger could very well be all the time fate needs to take your life. Even if it occurs to you quickly to try to jump clear, that does not mean you will have time to follow through and actually do so. Even the sharpest mind is not nearly as fast as happenstance. Precaution, however, is on your side, so make decisions beforehand as to how you want to protect yourself and follow through with that course of action every day, without exception. Be safe out there and be a tortoise as opposed to a hare; when it comes to safe tractor work, slow and steady wins the race.