Updated July 2008

Most sideways rollovers occur near farm and rural roadways when a tractor or other agricultural machine is inadvertently driven too close to the edge of a ditch. Other typical causes of sideways rollovers include operating a machine on a steep incline and cornering at excessive speed.

In the fifteen years from 1990-2004, 216 people were killed in sideways rollover events. Between April 1990 and March 2000, there were 57 sideways rollover-related hospitalizations. Sideways rollovers are the most common type of rollovers. They account for about 61.5% of all rollover fatalities. 86.1% of fatal sideways rollovers involved tractors. Rollovers generally result in serious crush injuries, so they are frequently fatal.

Adults aged 60 and over are particularly likely to be involved in a sideways machine rollover. They comprise only 14.4% of Canada’s total farming population (2001), but represented 40.7% of sideways rollover fatalities (88/216) and 26.3% of sideways rollover hospitalizations. This may be because older farmers are more likely to operate tractors that do not have rollover protection structures (ROPS) and seat belts.

Rollover protection structures (ROPS), when combined with seatbelt use, are designed to prevent the operator from being crushed during a rollover event. Use of ROPS and seatbelts by all tractor operators would help prevent sideways rollover fatalities. Riders of off road vehicles should wear CSA approved helmets to avoid serious head injuries in the event of a rollover.

Most tractors and other agricultural machines are not designed to seat passengers. Extra riders of any age should not be allowed on agricultural machines unless there are additional manufacturer-designed passenger workstations or seats. If passengers are not safely seated, they are very likely to be killed or injured seriously in a rollover event, even if the machine has ROPS.

Dr. William Pickett, Co-Director of The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting states that, “The systematic use of tractors with ROPS and seatbelts combined with extra care when working on and adjacent to slopes would markedly reduce the incidence of sideways rollover fatalities.”

This information is derived from data collected and analyzed by Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program collaborators and staff. CAIR is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and managed in cooperation with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.

For more information contact:
Dr. Rob Brison (via Deb Emerton),
The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting,
Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario K7L 2V7
Tel: (613) 548-2389 Fax (613) 548-1381
Email: CAIR@kgh.kari.net www.CAIR.ca