By Matt Kelley (Radio Iowa)
Today is Tractor Safety Day, the first day of National Farm Safety Week, and one of the biggest dangers involving farm tractors is a lack of rollover protection. A program offers Iowa tractor owners a rebate to install rollover protective structures, or ROPS. Jackie Curnick (CUR-nick), program coordinator at the University of Iowa’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, says the rebate saves money — and rollbars save lives.
Curnick says, “We can provide up to $500 in funding for a retrofitted rollbar and typically that’s about half of the price of the retrofit.” The program often has a lengthy national wait list but Curnick says Iowans have a special “in” and should apply for the rebate.
“Iowa is lucky because we do have some funds available, so we do say, ‘Yes get on the list,'” Curnick says. “In the last couple of years we’ve retrofitted about 30 tractors because we have that funding through the Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.” Studies find ROPS are 99% effective in preventing injury or death in the event of a rollover when used with a seatbelt, and 70% effective when used without a seatbelt.
“Half of U.S. tractors don’t have rollover protection. They are the leading cause of death on a farm, and 80% of deaths caused by tractor rollovers happen to farmers,” Curnick says. “The most frequent cause of them are going from the side or rear turnovers and that’s about 96 deaths per year.” She says virtually any tractor can be retrofitted with a ROPS. Learn more about the rebate program at www.i-cash.org.