Machine roll-over accidents can cause crush injuries and be serious enough to cause death. This occurs when the machine rolls over and tips onto one of its sides or its roof in a single incident or with multiple rolls. A roll-over accident not only affects the operator, it has the potential to injure other workers in its path. It’s not unheard of for a bulldozer to lose ground traction when it contacts an obstruction, causing it to roll over and crush or throw the operator out of their cage. There are many potential factors involved in roll-over incidents such as working on steep grades, inexperienced operators and poorly maintained equipment, to mention just a few.
We’ve made great strides when it comes to machine operator and worker safety, with technology providing electronic detectors, signaling devices, advanced monitoring systems and even incorporating new strategies for electric heavy equipment safety to deal with the lack of sound emitted from the machine. Lately, there’s been another positive step taken with requirements for roll-over protective structures (ROPS). Because they are relatively new, you might not be aware of the latest standards.
As of July 2022, Ontario’s Section 856 of the Health and Safety Act includes specifications for ROPS for machines and operators. The regulation is intended to protect operators from injuries caused by machine roll overs during operation, along with other required critical safety measures such as operator training, operator checklists and equipment maintenance. The regulation covers tractors, bulldozers, scrapers, front-end loaders, skidders, dumpers, graders or compactors other than asphalt compactors and self-propelled vehicles, operated by one or more persons who ride on or in it.
The regulation does not apply to machines with manufacturer-rated power specifications of 15 kilowatts or less with a tare mass of 700 kilograms or less (“tare mass” is the weight of an empty standard vehicle with all its fluids and only 10 litres of fuel in the tank). Machines manufactured before 1980 and not factory-equipped with adaptors to accept a ROPS are also exempt. As are machines used primarily underground in a mine.
All ROPS must be designed, constructed and maintained so that the structure will withstand the impact forces of a machine that is travelling at a forward speed of 16 kilometres per hour, engages a 30-degree slope and rolls 360 degrees about its longitudinal axis on a hard clay surface. On ROPS impact, no part of the structure can enter the space of the machine that is normally occupied by its operator, including in an upside down position.
All ROPS machines require labelling with the name and address of the manufacturer. Custom-built ROPS require the name and address of the engineer. Additional label requirements include the make, model and maximum mass of the machine that the ROPS is designed to fit. And all that labeling must be securely attached to the frame of the machine and capable of withstanding all forces to which it is likely to be subjected.
Every custom-built ROPS, repair or modification requires certification by an engineer to meet the regulation standard. Every repair to a manufactured ROPS requires approval by the manufacturer of the structure with the exception of custom-built ROPS.
All seat belts and restraining device must be designed, constructed, installed and maintained to secure the operator in a position within the space protected by the ROPS with the machine travelling at a forward speed of 16 kilometres per hour, engaging a 30-degree slope and rolling 360 degrees about its longitudinal axis on a hard clay surface. Workers may not operate these machines unless they are equipped with a ROPS that protects them when they are wearing this device. Workers are not allowed to operate these machines with installed seat belts unless they are wearing the seat belt. Restraining devices are not required on a skidder that is used in logging.
The full regulation is on the Ontario government OHS site at ontario.ca/laws.
James Hong is an independent writer & journalist.
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