Agriculture is anything but a harmless industry. Whether you are farming large tracts of land or doing a little gardening on a couple of acres, there are risks associated with the tools, equipment and materials used in the farm.
When it comes to equipment, one of the most convenient pieces of equipment on the farm is the compact utility tractor. It can also be one of the most of the dangerous. Therefore, you need to take into account some safety measures when dealing with these small tractors.
Built-in safety features
All of the latest models of compact tractors come fitted with two important safety features:
- A rollover protective structure
- A seatbelt
As with any safety feature, these are only useful if you actually use them.
Rollover protective structures (ROPS)
ROPS intend to provide safety for the driver of the compact tractor in case it overturns. Tractor designers build them using a special alloy steel to protect the operator from the crushing weight of the tractor from the rear, sideways or any other direction the tractor may have overturned.
While the ROPS may bend, their design allows them to absorb the impact and weight of the overturn in order to protect the occupant of the compact tractor as much as possible.
Some ROPS can fold down in case you need to access a building with a low ceiling, you want to work under trees or when you want to haul the tractor itself. There is no time-limit on how long you can operate the tractor with the ROPS folded so you have to remember to put them back up when you are done with any of these activities.
A word to the wise: When you are working under trees, watch out for low limbs. That may sound obvious but here’s how it relates to ROPS. If you have a two-post ROPS on your tractor, you may be pinned back to the ROPS by the low limb. This in no way means you should fold down your ROPS because the low limb could knock you off and under the tractor. Just watch out for low limbs, alright?
This is a problem for cars and tractors alike. People just don’t like using their seatbelts. This is a bad idea for obvious reasons but there are certain risks attached to riding a tractor without wearing a seatbelt.
The protective envelope provided by the rollover protective structure is only fully ‘activated’ when the driver has the seatbelt on. This is because it ensures that the driver remains within the protective envelope. If you do not have your seatbelt on, you could get thrown out of the safety of the ROPS which could end up with anything from a minor injury to you being crushed under the moving tractor.
Exception to the rule
There is one situation, however, where it is advisable not to wear a safety belt. If your tractor does not have ROPS, then you are safer not wearing a safety belt. This is because, in case of an overturn, you are free to jump or the force of the crush throws you clear of the tractor if you do not have your seatbelt on.