"A ROPS and seatbelt saved my life. I was coming up the highway on my Kubota tractor with a large round bale on the back. One car approached from the front and another from the back, so I moved to the side to avoid the possibility of an accident. The shoulder gave way, and the tractor rolled over," says Jeffrey L. Tucker of Raindance Farms in South Range, Wis. "I always keep the ROPS up and I wore my seatbelt. As the tractor began to roll, the seatbelt locked me in place and made sure I was situated under the roll bar. I'm here today because of that."
All tractor operators should take Tucker's real-life story to heart each time they climb on to drive any moving equipment. Fastened seatbelts and rollover protection structures are a critical combination for safe operation that can save your life.
Should a rollover occur, the combination of a ROPS and a fastened seatbelt are intended to keep the operator within a protective safety zone. In addition, a ROPS also absorbs energy if there is a turnover, helping to limit subsequent rolling. All operators should ensure that their tractors are equipped with this combination of safety features - and fasten their seatbelt each and every time they drive the machine.
Most tractor manufacturers include a ROPS and a seatbelt on new tractors; however, many older tractors did not come with standard ROPS and seatbelt. Tractor owners who have an older tractor model are encouraged to visit their local authorized tractor dealer to get a ROPS retrofit - many dealers or manufacturers run promotions to retrofit older tractors to meet today's safety standards. The NIOSH estimates that fatality rates due to tractor overturns could be reduced by 71 percent if all tractors in the U.S. were equipped with ROPS.
"Safety is a high priority, and we recommend that all tractors are equipped with a ROPS and seatbelt," says Greg Embury, vice president of sales and marketing, Kubota Tractor Corporation. "This combination can help to prevent major injury and could save a life."
Kubota is reinforcing important recommendations and safety rules to help keep tractor operators safe with the following tips:
* If removing a ROPS to store a tractor, always have the structure re-installed before operating.
* A ROPS and fastened seatbelt should always be used together. If doing specialized work, check with your dealer to be sure that the ROPS matches the job functions.
* Never use a homemade ROPS. All ROPS should be manufactured and engineered to performance-match the tractor.
* Don't try to install a ROPS by yourself - always have your ROPS installed at a certified tractor dealership to ensure proper and secure application. An incorrectly installed ROPS could be a hazard.
* An authorized manufacturer's dealer is the best place to find experienced technicians ready to help provide additional safety information and details about a ROPS retrofit for older models.
"When we work together to reinforce safe equipment operating practices, we not only protect ourselves, but also the ones we love in the process," says Embury.
Visit www.kubota.com for additional safety information including the "Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety," a tractor safety coloring book and an informational safety video, "It's a Family Affair."