Expert: Many tractors don’t have safety feature required for around 35 years

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - 12 tractors are on Easton Halverson’s family farm in Fayette County. But, only two have a safety feature required in tractors for around 35 years.

Dr. Brandi Janssen, who studies agricultural labor at the University of Iowa and is the director of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, said around 50% of tractors being used don’t have a rollover protective structure (ROPS). She said the lack of protection has helped make tractor rollovers the leading cause of death on American farms.

“We know it saves lives,” Dr. Janssen said about the ROPS, which is a metal bar or frame to ensure a tractor doesn’t crush a driver in a rollover.

The University of Iowa said 1 in 7 farmers involved in tractor overturns are permanently disabled and 7 out of 10 farms will go out of business within five years of a tractor overturn fatality. Researchers also say ROPS are 99% effective in preventing injury or death in the event of an overturn while wearing a seatbelt.

Dr. Janssen said half of all tractors don’t have a rollover bar even though laws went into effect 37 years ago requiring them on new machines. She said that’s because many people are still using tractors made before 1985.

Easton Halverson said he install two ROPS onto his tractors for around $300, which he believes is worth it.

“Once a life is gone, you can’t take it back,” he said. “I think anyone would argue $300 is worth it to save somebody’s life.”

Halverson said the bar and the installation cost around $1,000. But, a rebate program allowed him to get a rebate for around 70% of the costs.