A Bottom-Up Approach to Tractor Safety: Improving the Handling of Foldable Roll-Over Protective Structures (FROPS) Through User-Centred Design
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Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) are the most effective solution to prevent fatalities in case of tractor rollover. Foldable Rollover Protective Structures (FROPS) have been developed to facilitate tractor operation in low overhead clearance zones. However, many of the fatalities and serious injuries in tractor rollover accidents occur when the FROPS is left by the operator in the folded-down position. Little is known about the reasons of such behavior and few solutions have been suggested to overcome this issue. Adopting a user-centred approach, in the present study a group of farmworkers (n = 21) was observed and interviewed while handling the FROPS on their own tractor, to point out critical behaviors, perceptions of effort and suggestions for technical solutions to support the manual operation of FROPS. A set of FROPS-related objective measurements were also taken. The participants reported moderate levels of perceived effort, as the entity of the force required to operate the FROPS was minimized by the low handling frequency. The observations pointed out that participants adopted some spontaneous strategies to facilitate the handling of the roll-bar during lowering and raising operations. Based on the present results some recommendations for technical adjustments are proposed to encourage the correct use of FROPS to prevent fatal accidents due to tractor rollover.
KeywordsAgriculture Foldable ROPS Human-machine interaction Safety Tractor rollover User-centred design
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