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NIOSH AutoROPS Research to Practice: Zero Turn Commercial Mowers

[+] Author Affiliations
E. A. McKenzie, Jr., J. R. Etherton, J. R. Harris, D. M. Cantis, T. J. Lutz

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Paper No. IMECE2005-81575, pp. 91-96; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Engineering/Technology Management
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Engineering and Technology Management Group
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4230-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6


Marketing new safety devices is a critical function on the research-to-practice path. This path to adoption of new safety technology is not always straightforward. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Automatically deployable Rollover Protective Structure (AutoROPS) is a passive safety device developed to protect tractor operators in an overturn event. Tractor overturns kill more than 100 farmers each year in the United States (Myers, 2003). This technology was first designed to target the agricultural low-clearance environments involving “low-profile” tractors where traditional ROPS may not be feasible. These tractors are exempted from ROPS use as stated in OSHA 1928.51(b) (5) (i & ii). The upper portion of the AutoROPS remains retracted under low clearance areas but deploys to full height when an overturn is detected. The AutoROPS has been tested under both field and laboratory conditions prescribed in the ROPS performance standard, SAE J2194. To translate successful research into occupational practice, NIOSH formed a partnership with FEMCO, a ROPS manufacturer, in 2003. FEMCO’s efforts found Scag Power Equipment, a zero-turn commercial mower manufacturer. NIOSH has partnered with them as well. The Scag AutoROPS has been successfully laboratory tested to industry standards. Preliminary field evaluations of the deployment system have been conducted in preparation for field upset tests. Product development, test procedures, test results, and current marketing efforts are presented on this innovative safety device.



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