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The NIOSH CROPS Demonstration Project: A Study in New York and Virginia with an Emphasis on Youth

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 22(3): 173-186. (doi: 10.13031/jash.22.11624) @2016
Authors:   David L. Hard, Eugene A. McKenzie, Jr., Douglas Cantis, John May, Julie Sorensen, Barbara Bayes, Erin Madden, Bruce Stone, Jimmy Maass
Keywords:   Cost-effective rollover protective structures (CROPS), Injury prevention, Rollover protective structures (ROPS), Tractor safety.

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AgFF) industry sector has had the highest rate of work-related deaths over the past several years. Tractors are the single largest source of occupational fatalities in this industry sector, and tractor rollovers are the largest category of tractor fatalities. The risk of death due to tractor rollovers has been found to be reduced considerably when rollover protective structures (ROPS) are used in conjunction with seatbelts. Increasing the number of tractors with ROPS and seatbelts is one way in which tractor rollover fatalities can be mitigated. The NIOSH cost-effective rollover protective structure (CROPS) project was designed as a demonstration project to determine if CROPS, a type of ROPS, could be retrofitted in the field and were acceptable to farmers. To this end, the CROPS project was successful, with 50 tractors being retrofitted with CROPS in the field. All study participants were asked to complete a pretest, test, and posttest regarding the CROPS retrofit demonstration and their knowledge and attitudes toward ROPS. CROPS demonstrators were the participants who retrofitted their tractors with CROPS. Demonstrators were asked to recruit three to five other participants, known as observers, to watch the demonstration. The rationale was to generate interest in ROPS/CROPS among other farmers and community leaders. Overall, 16% of the participants had youth operating tractors on their farms. Participants reported that 44 youth operated tractors on their farms, more than 25% of these young tractor operators were 4 to 10 years old, and half of the youth operating tractors on participant farms were 13 years old or younger. Only one participant group (demonstrators) included individuals who had all of their tractors protected with ROPS/CROPS for young tractor operators (28%), but they accounted for only one farm each among the New York and Virginia demonstrators. The survey question on ROPS importance did not show an overall increase after respondents participated in the CROPS demonstration project. However, one Virginia observer asked to become a Virginia demonstrator and installed a CROPS on his tractor. Additionally, the questions on attitude toward ROPS showed a general increase in mean scores, with the some of the lowest response categories on the follow-up survey not being selected by respondents, indicating a potentially positive impact on participants‘ safety attitudes toward ROPS. For the safety attitude questions, the majority remained the same. This study indicates there is still much work to be done to reduce the number of deaths in production agriculture due to tractor rollovers. CROPS could be a valuable addition to the efforts of retrofitting ROPS on tractors in order to reduce the number of deaths due to tractor rollovers.

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