Tractor roll-over protection requirements

Tractor roll-over is one of the leading causes of deaths on farms.

Tractor roll-over

When a tractor roll-over happens an operator can be injured or killed from the tractor rolling over and landing on them or, from them being ejected.

Tractors are most at risk of rolling over when:

  • working on sloping terrain
  • working on rough, slick or muddy surfaces
  • equipment is poorly maintained
  • the operator is not well-trained and competent in how to safely operate the tractor and its attachments
  • travelling through pastures or crops where high vegetation can obscure stumps and/or pot holes
  • working near dams, ditches, irrigation channels, embankments or over hanging structures
  • using attachments that can affect the stability of the tractor such as front end loader

Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) requirements

As a farmer you may be self-employed, have employees, or manage a farm. No matter which one you are, you have legal health and safety duties.

By law, employers and self-employed persons must ensure that a tractor with wheels is not used at their workplace unless it is fitted with ROPS.

There are very limited circumstances where this requirement does not apply, see 'Limited circumstances the ROPS requirement does not apply' section for more information.

Most tractors, no matter their age, now have ROPS retro-fit kits available. There are many ROPS designs and configurations, including fold-down ROPS for use underneath trees with protruding branches.

Fitting ROPS

ROPS should be fitted by a suitably qualified person. Drilling and or welding of ROPS can affect the structural integrity of the ROPS and whether it can hold the weight of the tractor in the event of a roll-over. See 'Further Information' section for guidance on suitably qualified persons.

Preventing roll-overs

Tips to prevent tractor roll-overs include:

  • when pulling heavy loads, never hitch above the centre line of the axle
  • engage the clutch gently when starting up a hill or towing
  • avoid tractor work on steep slopes
  • use wide wheel settings and correct ballast

Keeping safe in the ROPS zone

The ROPs zone refers to the area of protection provided by the ROPS to the operator, in the event of a tractor roll-over.

Seatbelts help keep an operator safely within the ROPs zone. Ensure all seatbelts are in good working condition, and are used whenever you are operating the tractor.

If your tractor is not fitted with a seatbelt, there are retro-fit kits available, contact your local dealer for these.

Tractors without ROPS are far more dangerous should a roll-over occur.

Tractors without ROPS are far more dangerous should a roll-over occur.

Without a seatbelt can easily be thrown from a ROPs protection

Without wearing a seatbelt you can easily be thrown from the tractor then crushed by the tractor or ROPS. This can even happen even if you have a cabin on your tractor.

 Wearing a seatbelt keeps you safely in the ROPS zone.

Wearing a seatbelt keeps you safely in the ROPS zone.

Limited circumstances the ROPS requirement does not apply

The law requiring that ROPS must be fitted to a tractor does not apply in limited circumstances where:

  • A tractor manufactured in, or imported into, Victoria before 1 July 1981, if it is not reasonably practicable to fit roll-over protection to the tractor.

Note: If a commercially manufactured ROPS is available for the tractor, WorkSafe Victoria considers it reasonably practicable to have ROPS installed on older plant.

  • A tractor used at a workplace in circumstances in which there is no likelihood of the tractor overturning.

Note: This exclusion generally applies to stationary plant used for activity such as pumping and where the plant is not used with any attachments or at any other location on the property.

  • A tractor fitted with ROPS, where the ROPS have been temporarily removed or lowered and is being used under a tree or other vegetation or in another place where there is insufficient space for the tractor to operate effectively while the ROPS is fitted.

Note: This exclusion only applies while using the tractor in these circumstances. As soon as the tractor is being used in a place that has sufficient space, the ROPS must be reinstated.

  • A tractor weighing less than 560 kilograms, the weight being taken in the lightest form in which the tractor is normally available for retail sale when new and without water, fuel or lubricating oil.

Note: Tractors and lawnmowers of this weight have also rolled-over and caused fatalities so it's recommended that you install a ROPS if they are available.