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Preventing tractor rollover fatalities: performance of the NIOSH AutoROPS


Approximately 132 agricultural tractor overturn fatalities occur per year. The use of rollover protective structures (ROPS), along with seat belts, is the best known method for preventing these fatalities. One impediment to ROPS use, however, is low clearance situations, such as orchards and animal confinement buildings.

To address the need for ROPS that are easily adapted to low clearance situations, the Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), developed an automatically deploying, telescoping ROPS (AutoROPS). The NIOSH AutoROPS consists of two subsystems. The first is a retractable ROPS that is normally latched in its lowered position for day-to-day use. The second subsystem is a sensor that monitors the operating angle of the tractor. If a rollover condition is detected by the sensor, the retracted ROPS will deploy and lock in the full upright position before ground contact.

Static load testing and field upset tests of the NIOSH AutoROPS have been conducted in accordance with SAE standard J2194. Additionally, timed trials of the AutoROPS deployment mechanism were completed. The design of the retractable ROPS and sensor, as well as the results of the different testing phases are discussed.

  • tractor safety
  • rollover protective structures (ROPS)
  • overturn
  • occupational injury

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