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Roll-over protection for rural mobile plant

Rollover protective structures (ROPS) are life-saving devices that can prevent operators from being crushed when mobile plant rolls over.

This information does not apply to:

Roll-over rural mobile plant (RMP) risks

There are numerous items of RMP that pose a risk of injury to the operator in the event of a roll-over, these may include (but are not limited to):

  • harvesters
  • spray rigs
  • earth moving equipment
  • modified tractors (which are not compatible with the definition of a tractor)
  • banana bagging machines (that may not be defined as a EWP)
  • industry specific items of mobile plant.

The protection of the operator of a tractor and/or other RMP from a roll-over incident injury is very important. Many items of RMP may have been manufactured, modified or re-designed to undertake a particular task with no design analysis or assessment performed to assess the risk of roll-over.

Where there is a risk of injury from a roll-over incident involving RMP, there are obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to develop and implement safe systems of work to prevent or minimise the risk of injury to the operator for:

  • persons who conduct a business or undertaking
  • persons in control of a workplace
  • designers, manufacturers and suppliers of RMP.

A documented risk assessment has to be undertaken in the development and implementation of the safe systems of work.

This risk assessment should include information provided from the manufacturer and supplier, but will also need to include aspects regarding the safe use with consideration to specific aspects such as:

  • Operation and environment.
    • the terrain that item of plant may be operated over
    • the speed at which the plant may be operated at
    • any other environmental and operational conditions that may effect the safe use of the plant
    • what weight loading may affect the stability of the item of plant, for example:
      • ballast amount and its configuration
      • movement of liquid e.g. high clearance spray rig commodity loading e.g. harvest equipment
    • stability and operational dynamics e.g. width of track, operation or body height, centre of gravity, distribution of weight.
  • Design
    • What engineering principles and/or standards have been adopted to control the risks of injury from roll-over?
    • What testing or analysis has been undertaken to determine if those engineering control/s provide adequate protection to the operator in the likelihood of a roll-over situation?
    • Has testing or analysis been conducted by a suitably competent person or a qualified engineer?
    • Has any assessment been conducted for the operating of the item of plant outside design capabilities?

Information references

A number of technical standards are available for the design and testing of roll-over protective structures (ROPS). While these standards may not apply to the specific item of plant under consideration the criteria for design and testing may be used to demonstrate that the protective structure is suitable. The Australian standards that may be applicable are:

Australian Standard 1636 Tractors – Roll-over protective structures-criteria and tests

This standard specifies procedures for the evaluation of roll over protective structures for the protection of operators of tractors. This standard does not apply to high clearance tractors (>600 mm).

Australian Standard 2294 Earth-moving machinery – Protective structures

The objective of this standard is to provide designers, manufacturers, suppliers, employers and users of earth-moving machinery with specifications covering technical means to minimise the risk to health and safety of employees.