Tractors injure or kill many people on farms. Farm workers, family members and children have been killed or seriously injured by falling from a moving tractor, or being crushed when a tractor roll over sideways or tip over backwards.
A tractor must not be used in a workplace unless it is securely fitted with a roll-over protective structure (ROPS). This does not apply to a tractor under 560kg or over 15,000kg, a tractor installed in a fixed position and incapable of moving, or a tractor used for a historical purpose or activity.
A ROPS can protect the driver in a rollover. It may also provide some limited protection to the driver from falling objects such as hay bales or items being loaded or unloaded from the back of trucks.
If the tractor is used where it is too low for the tractor to work with the ROPS in place, then the ROPS may be lowered or removed only for this situation and only if other measures to reduce the risk of roll-over are in place.
Buying a new tractor with a ROPS
Any new tractor, for which there is a manufacturer’s ROPS, should have one fitted at the point of sale.
The ROPS must comply with Australian Standards series 1636: 1996 Rollover protective structures.
Buying a tractor without a ROPS
Suppliers can sell a tractor without a ROPS if there is no approved frame. These are often older-type tractors that were never fitted with ROPS.
You need to be aware that the tractor you’re buying is not fitted with a ROPS, and that you’ll need to fit one before using it on your farm.
Ask your dealer at the point of sale if an Australian Standard-approved ROPS can be fitted to the tractor and what it will cost. It may be more cost-effective in the long-run(and certainly safer) to buy a tractor already fitted with a ROPS.
Selling a tractor without a ROPS
If you are trading in your tractor to a dealer, you don’t need to fit a ROPS before sale.
You must wear your seat belt if one is fitted to your tractor. This will stop you being thrown from the tractor and being rolled upon.
You should not carry any passengers on your tractor unless it has the capacity to carry passengers safely, and is fitted with approved passenger safety devices.
Chemical spraying on a tractor
Spraying crops, orchards, pests and weeds with pesticides and herbicides can be dangerous to tractor operators.
If the tractor has no cab:
- wear full protective equipment/clothing
- use minimal spray pressure to reduce misting
- don’t spray on windy days.
Even within a cab, operators are still at risk because door seals and air conditioning filters do not totally exclude chemicals.
- Minimum personal protection inside a cab should be a charcoal respirator.
- Regularly maintain the cab’s air-conditioning filters and check door seals for wear.
- Use ‘recycled air’ mode and keep all windows, doors, hatches and vents shut.
- Switch to ‘fresh air’ mode when safe to do so, to replenish oxygen in the cabin.
Working near overhead power lines
Overhead power lines can be extremely dangerous. Treat them with great caution.
Farm machinery including tractors fitted with radio antennae can become instant killers if they contact high-voltage power lines. In certain atmospheric conditions, the machinery does not even have to touch the power lines; simply being too close can create a fatal flash-over.