Letter to the Editor: The importance of tractor safety

Dear Editor:

In “Students drive tractors to school, celebrate Kutztown ag” (May 20), I was pleased to see our future farmers featured. Farming is still the lifeblood of many rural communities. I was surprised and concerned, however, to see these young people on tractors without rollover protection. Tractor overturns are the leading cause of death on U.S. farms. In fact, they account for nearly 100 fatalities and hundreds of crippling injuries each year - including teens and young adults.

These tragedies are preventable, however, through use of rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seat belts. While ROPS kits are now standard on tractors, many older tractors, such as those featured in your photo, are still in use on farms today. These tractors can be retrofitted but for small, family farms where they are most likely to be used, the cost and process to retrofit can be prohibitive.

A program now exists in a handful of states to help farmers pay for ROPS (up to $865 in most cases) and with the logistics of installing the new equipment. The ROPS Rebate Program is administered by the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing.

One-hundred and forty-three Pennsylvania farmers are waiting to participate in this program, and we are hopeful that we will be able to make it available to them and farmers throughout the state in the near future. For more information or to support the effort, visit www.ROPSr4u.org or call 1-877-ROPS-r4u (1-877-767-7748). Our farmers, and future farmers, deserve to be safe on the job.

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Sincerely,

Pam Tinc

ROPS Rebate Program Coordinator