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WorkSafe Victoria support ROPS subsidy support for orchardists

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Victorian orchardists can receive a subsidy to help cover the installation cost of tractor rollover protection structures or ROPS.

With ROPS that can be folded-down or removed when working near trees now readily available, orchardists no longer have a reason not to fit rollover protection.

ROPS have been required for all tractors and were reasonably practicable since the early 1990s. However, because of the perceived danger of tractors with ROPS working among trees, many orchardists did not take advantage of the last subsidy scheme in 1997-1998.

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

WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director, John Merritt and VFF Horticulture Group President, Peter Cochrane said the rebate of up to $400 per machine would help orchardists to install ROPS on up to three tractors per farm business.

“The VFF has worked closely with WorkSafe to introduce this rebate. This rebate will allow farmers to maximise safety for themselves and their workers at a relatively low cost,” Peter Cochrane said.

The rebate is available for ROPS installed after 1 July 2007 until the end of June 2009.

A list of Eligibility Criteria together with an application form can be obtained from the VFF Workplace Relations Department.

“Safety improvements evolve over time. With safer fold-down ROPS now readily available, there’s no reason why all tractors cannot be fitted with rollover protection.

“Most tractor owners fitted ROPS a decade ago. Now it’s time for orchardists to update their machines,” John Merritt said.

“The next stage of reducing risk on farms is to ensure that tractors used in orchards have rollover protection and this subsidy should go some way towards delivering that goal,” Peter Cochrane concluded.

More than 12,000 tractors were fitted with ROPS in the 1997-98 ROPS rebate project at a cost of more than $8 million.

Around 70% of tractors fitted with ROPS during the campaign were older machines up to 38 years old.

John Merritt said WorkSafe Victoria had worked closely with farming communities to understand that being badly hurt at work was not part of the job.

“If you do not have rollover protection, the chances of death or serious injury are high if the machine rolls. Wearing a seatbelt in conjunction with ROPS further reduces the chance of injury.

“Rollovers can occur on relatively flat terrain as well as hilly country, especially when attachments are fitted.”

WorkSafe Victoria have a range of tractor safety publications in a printed form and on its website. Printed copies are available by contacting WorkSafe’s regional offices or the WorkSafe Advisory Service.

WorkSafe Victoria fund a free, three-hour, independent safety consultancy service for small and medium sized business. Farm safety groups operate across Victoria.

Working with ROPS - the basics

  • Fit a ROPS to the tractor or upgrade to a machine with ROPS
  • Design changes to ROPS including fold down protective frames are available
  • Make sure that:

    • Fold down ROPS are reinstated once away from the obstruction

    • ROPS that have been temporarily removed or lowered is reinstated before using the plant elsewhere at the workplace

    • The plant is maintained in accordance with the manufacturers instructions

    • The tractor is operated within the manufacturers recommendations applicable to the task and fitted implement

    • Counter weights / ballasts are fitted where needed
  • When towing heavy loads such as pulling a bogged vehicle clear, use reverse gear and hitch to the front drawbar, never hitch above the centre line of the axle
  • Engage the clutch gently when starting up a hill or towing to avoid rearward overturn
  • Turn uphill when turning on slopes
  • The use of wide wheel settings and the correct ballast will greatly reduce the risk of rollover

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