Agriculture has the highest injury and fatality rates when compared with other U.S. industries, and tractor overturns remain the leading cause of agricultural fatalities. Rollover protection structures (ROPS) are the only proven devices to protect a tractor operator in the event of an overturn. These devices are 99% effective when used with a seatbelt. Nearly 49% of tractors in the U.S. are not equipped with a ROPS. Interventions such as social marketing, community awareness campaigns, and financial incentives have been directed at encouraging farmers to install ROPS on their unprotected tractors. The purpose of this study was to conduct similar comparisons of ROPS protection and readiness to retrofit in different segments of the Vermont and Pennsylvania farm communities. A telephone survey was used to collect data on ROPS prevalence, farm demographic characteristics, and farmer's stage of change relative to installing ROPS on farm tractors. Our data provide new and unique information on the prevalence of ROPSequipped tractors relative to commodity, farm size, and a variety of other demographic variables. Extrapolating from these data, the commodities studied account for roughly 162,072 tractors across the two states. Of these, 85,927 (53%) do not have ROPS. Of these unprotected tractors, 77,203 are in Pennsylvania and 8,724 are in Vermont. Our other two research questions dealt with the farmer's stage of change and possible ways to segment this population. The stage of change portion of our work demonstrates that most Pennsylvania and Vermont farmers are not contemplating ROPS retrofitting in the near future. Since no major differences were found in the stage of change, the number of unprotected tractors was examined for each of the commodity groups. In Pennsylvania, 29% of all unprotected tractors were found on cash crop farms. This trend was even more apparent on smaller farms than large farms. This led to the selection of smaller cash crop farms as the target audience for social marketing messages. In contrast, researchers in Vermont found a bimodal distribution of unprotected tractors. Of all the commodity groups surveyed in Vermont, vegetable and cash crop farmers were least likely to have even one protected tractor to use on the farm. Probably the most encouraging finding from this study is that over 85% of Pennsylvania farms and over 87% of Vermont farms surveyed had at least one tractor available that had ROPS protection. Of those farms, 25.5% of the Pennsylvania farms and 46% of the Vermont farms have ROPS on all of their tractors. Both of these findings were greater than the findings from a 2006 survey of New York State farms, which found that 75% of surveyed New York farms have ROPS on at least one tractor, and 18% have ROPS on all tractors. Even with these encouraging data, the goal of 100% of tractors with ROPS is far from being met. There are still an estimated 90,000 unprotected tractors on Pennsylvania and Vermont farms, and these farm owners are currently unmotivated to install ROPS. However, as demonstrated in New York State, it may be possible to use social marketing that combines persuasive messages and cost-sharing to persuade these farmers that ROPS are indeed important and accessible.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health