2011-01-06 / Local & State

Pa. Ranks High In Tractor Deaths

Farmers, agricultural health advocates launch rollover protection program Jan. 4
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

For the first time, Pennsylvania farmers have access to a program that makes life-saving tractor equipment affordable and simple to order. The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) is the lead organization for the ROPS ( rollover protection system) Retrofit Program for Pennsylvania Farmers, one of only four such programs in the United States.

Agricultural safety and health experts from PSU joined farmers and donors to launch the new program on Jan. 4 at the Keystone Farm Show, Building #1, in York.

According to PSU, there were 58 farm-related tractor rollover deaths in Pennsylvania between the years 2000 and 2008, ranking Pennsylvania among the top five states for these kinds of tragedies. A farmer is eight times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American worker, and the leading cause of these deaths is tractor overturns.

“ Pennsylvania farmers are among those most at risk for these rollover accidents yet many don’t have rollover protection on their older tractors because of the cost of the equipment or the hassle of ordering and installing it,” said Aaron Yoder, Ph.D., ROPS coordinator for PSU. “We are taking those barriers away to improve safety for our farmers and their families.”

Alyssa Fodor’s family suffered the loss of her grandfather, who died nearly five years ago when his tractor overturned in Rittman, Ohio. “I strongly feel that it is important for farmers to have rollover protection on their tractors,” Fodor said. “My grandfather was a very experienced tractor operator but, even so, the accident still occurred. If the tractor he was on would have had rollover protection, my family and I may have very well been able to spend a little more time with a man we loved so much,” she added. Fodor’s grandfather had Hereford cattle and grew wheat, corn, soybeans and other crops on more than 500 acres since the 1950s.

The ROPS Retrofit Program for Pennsylvania Farmers will reimburse farmers 70 percent of the cost of their tractor rollover protection kit – a roll bar and seat belt – up to a savings of $765, and provides help to farmers with identifying and pricing the appropriate rollover kits for their tractors.

Pennsylvania’s program is administered by the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health, the organization behind a similar program in New York that has successfully accomplished a 10-fold increase in tractor rollover protection installation since the program’s inception in 2007. Vermont and New Hampshire started ROPS programs in September and November, respectively.

Early supporters of the ROPS Retrofit Program for Pennsylvania Farmers include Land O’Lakes Cooperative; AgChoice Farm Credit; Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; and Montgomery County Farm Bureau.

Farmers may call toll-free 877- ROPS-R4U (877-767-7748) or visit www.ropsr4u.com for more information or to register for a rollover kit.

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