Agri View: Dangerous Jobs

DanAgri View

Everett Griner talks about farming ranking high in Dangerous Jobs list in today’s Agri View.

Dangerous Jobs

You know we constantly are reminded that being in law enforcement or being a firefighter is a dangerous job. When a policeman or fireman loses his life, it makes national news. When did you see any news about a farmer’s death? Actually, farming is a lot more dangerous job than either law enforcement or firefighting. Here is what statistics reveal. Farmers are twice as likely to die on the job as a police officer. Five times more likely than a fireman. Statistics show that tractor accidents are the main cause of accidental death among farmers. And the ratio of young farmers, under twenty that is, is very high. It just goes you that very few of us ever considered farming to be a dangerous job. While law enforcement and firefighting are considered among the most dangerous job.

That’s Agri View for today. I’m Everett Griner…

Photo credit: Accident scene involving a tractor overturn fatality. Photo courtesy of Iowa FACE Program.

From: University of Iowa, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health

Tractor Overturns

Safe operating techniques reduce the risk of overturns.

ROPS reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of an overturn.


Tractor overturns are the leading cause of fatal injuries on US farms, resulting in an average of about 130 deaths each year.

1 in 10 operators overturns a tractor in his or her lifetime.

80% of deaths caused by tractor overturns involve experienced operators.

Tractor overturns are costly.

  • 1 in 7 farmers involved in tractor overturns is permanently disabled.
  • 7 of 10 farms will go out of business within 5 years following a tractor-related fatality.

Tractor with 2-post ROPS.
Photo credit: www.TractorData.com.

Accident scene involving a tractor overturn fatality where retractable ROPS was secured in folded-down position.
Photo courtesy of Iowa FACE Program.

Who is at risk?

Because of their high center of gravity, tractors are more susceptible to rolling or turning over than vehicles like passenger cars and trucks, which have a low center of gravity.

While all tractor operators are at risk of overturning a tractor, highest rates of fatalities occur

  • in the Midwest, Northeast, and South regions of the US
  • in farms involved in crop production
  • among farm family members
  • among older operators

The most frequent causes of tractor-related deaths are side and rear overturns. The vehicles typically involved in these incidents are older tractors that are not equipped with Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS).

What are ROPS?

ROPS are a roll bar or cage frames that are designed specifically for tractors to create a zone of protection around the operator in the event that the tractor overturns. ROPS does not prevent rollovers from occurring; most rollovers result from tractor speed, operator error, or unsafe driving conditions. But in the event of an overturn, ROPS may limit the degree of rollover to 90 degrees.

ROPS are designed to be used in conjunction with seatbelts which keep the operator in place within the protective zone framed by the ROPS. Without a seatbelt, an operator may be thrown from the tractor and crushed by the tractor or the ROPS itself. ROPS are 99% effective in preventing serious injury or death when used with a seatbelt.

ROPS became standard equipment on US-manufactured tractors in 1986, but many tractors manufactured before 1986 are still widely used on farms and unlikely to have been retrofitted with ROPS.

Learn more about tractor overturns and how to prevent them from the University of Iowa, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health.