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Written by Matt McTurk
In the following article we discuss roll over protective structures (ROPS) – when to use them, what machines require them, and safety standards.
What Are Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS)?
Definition: A ROPS is a structure that protects the occupant in the case of a rollover. Think of it as similar to a roll cage in a race car.
Which Machines Require ROPS?
According to the Alberta OH&S 2009 code, ROPS are required on the following types of powered mobile equipment weighing 700 kgs (1543 lbs) or more:
(a) Tracked (crawler) or wheeled bulldozers, loaders, tractors or skidders,
other than those operating with side booms;
(b) Back hoes with a limited horizontal swing of 180 degrees;
(c) Motor graders;
(d) Self‐propelled wheeled scrapers;
(e) Industrial, agricultural and horticultural tractors, including ride‐on
(f) Wheeled trenchers.
So Pipelayers Are Exempt?
Alberta may not officially require a ROPS on a Side Boom/Pipelayer, but if a hazard assessment identifies rollover as a potential hazard, then the machine must be fitted with a ROPS. Many other provinces do require a ROPS on a Pipelayer (example: British Columbia).
What Does A ROPS Look Like?
Generally, it is a steel structure that surrounds the Cab area. Depending on the machine, the ROPS may have been installed at the factory, or it could have been purchased from an aftermarket dealer.
What Material Requirements Does A ROPS Have?
A ROPS needs to be designed with a material that meets a minimum cold weather toughness. Using standard tubing can be a concern since most tubing does not necessarily meet the required toughness. That’s why you will notice most ROPS manufacturers use plate material in their designs.
How Do You Know If Your Machine Has A ROPS?
There should be an ID Tag somewhere on the ROPS indicating, among other things, that it has been engineered as a ROPS. Be aware that some machines may look like they have a ROPS but they actually only have a FOPS.
What Is A FOPS And Why Is It Different Than A ROPS?
A FOPS is a Falling Objective Protective Structure, and is only intended to protect the occupant from objects falling from overhead. It is not intended to protect the person in a rollover. FOPS and ROPS tend to have similar design features which can make a person believe they have a ROPS, when in reality they only have a FOPS. There are instances where the ROPS and FOPS have been combined into one design.
Do I Still Need To Wear A Seat belt If I Have A ROPS?
YES! A ROPS may stop the machine from crushing the cab area, but it won’t stop you from being ejected. A seat belt or other restraining device must still be used.
See the image below from Work Safe BC on ROPS and seatbelt use.
What Should I do If My Machine Doesn’t Have A ROPS?
If your machine is required to have a ROPS, or if you just want to go above and beyond and protect your operator there are a few options out there. You can call the manufacturer of your machine to see if they can provide you with one. You can check to see if there is an aftermarket ROPS for your unit. Or you can have them designed by an engineering firm, such as Sparta Engineering, to match your exact specifications.
How Is A ROPS Attached To A Machine?
How a ROPS is secured to the machine is critical in making sure the ROPS functions as intended. You can either weld the ROPS to the machine or you can bolt it. Each connection has its strengths and weaknesses. For a welded connection, depending on the size of the machine it may require multiple weld passes which could introduce enough heat into the machine that it actually distorts some components. For example, on some Dozers the ROPS is welded to the differential housing. If you are not careful you can actually distort that housing. With a bolted connection you can add the ROPS without modification to the machine, but in the case of a dozer you may lose access to the rear for things like a ripper or a hitch. To determine which design is best for your situation we suggest calling Sparta Engineering to discuss your options.
Guest posted by Matt McTurk