Safety Culture and Video 8

This video made me a little mad. I was looking around to see what WorkSafe BC had in the way of agriculture safety resources and found a 2min video on tractor roll-over protection (ROP). This video makes the farmers sound irrational: why wouldn’t you install ROPs on your tractor? The video answers this question: ignorance ‘they don’t think they need it’.

But farmers are rational people taking rational actions like everyone else. Why wouldn’t they install ROPs on old machines? Firstly, farming is a low-margin enterprise so if you have an old tractor this might be due to economic constraints. ROPs can cost as much as the value of an old tractor and means you have to wait that much longer to get your new tractor (which likely has ROPS already installed).

Removing ROPs from a tractor is a little trickier to understand, but lots of safety equipment is removed or defeated due to poor design. For example, the guards on most grain augers prevent adequate maintenance and cleaning, so lots of farmers remove them and never put them back on. If the safety equipment is poorly designed, hard to use, or gets in the way of the work task, people will find a way around it. However, if it far better to find out what the reasons are and what the right design specs would be rather than to chalk it up to ‘dumb workers’ or ‘laziness’. I’d love to see a video that shows some understanding of why folks might not use safety equipment and counters those reasons while showing more respect for the workers/employers as decision makers.

Side note: a seatbelt should only be sued when you have ROPs. If you don’t have ROPs, your only hope is to be thrown from the vehicle so it doesn’t land on you. If you don’t have ROPs, DON’T buckle up!