View Full Version : ROPS are stupid

08-11-2005, 02:23 PM
Take a look at these:



08-11-2005, 02:43 PM
Doubtful either machine had ROPS, if ROPS had been in place doubtful that the operator would have been wearing a seatbelt.

I'll say more like Operator error. Putting them self in a dangerous situation with a very poweful and dangerous machine.

Don't let anybody fool you. we are in a dangerous industry

If a car hits a tree and the person isn;t wearing their seatbelt, is it the seatbelts fault....

Honestly, Nothing against older people....but 70 is a bit on aged side to be in this type of business....

08-11-2005, 02:55 PM
The guy in Lebanon was mowing a bank he usually weed eated or at least that is what I heard.Sometimes I do that and when I get done I think was that worth it?Makes you think.

Richard Martin
08-11-2005, 03:52 PM
I'd like to read more details especially concerning the Dixie Chopper overturning. As everyone knows most of these ZTRs will slide long before they turn over. Most Dixies come with a super wide width, usually an inch narrower than the cut. My 60 inch Dixie has a 59" wheel width. The only way I can figure you would turn one over is if it starts to slide pretty fast sideways and then catches on something.

08-11-2005, 05:23 PM
Wow, this is a horrible story.


08-11-2005, 08:41 PM
Mowtech, Do you know what ROPS stands for??

08-11-2005, 09:47 PM
Yes, but I think you'd like to tell me . . .

08-11-2005, 11:12 PM
Take a look at these:



Did you mean that as a question. ROPs are stupid?

Well, of course these are two incidents that we don't know the facts about. Both terrible tragedies. But were the ROPs up or down or like mine in the storage building? Did the ROPs cause them to flip? I would sure like to know exactly what happened.

08-11-2005, 11:49 PM
Good topic, I'm glad you brought it up. IMO, the only thing stupid about ROPS is that so many of the manufacturers make to them non-foldable. All this causes is for people to want to remove them altogether. Alot of people that would have removed the ROPS won't if it is the folding type because being able to fold it down oftentimes allows for just enough low-clearance accessibilty that you can live with it. Hence it gets to stay on. And even with it folded, it is still better than not having one at all in the event of a roll-over.

And while were on the topic, I think it would be in order for manufacturers (and I don't mean for them to recommend some aftermarket four-point, non-foldable, non-removable ROPS with a canopy either . . .cough-DEERE-cough. . .) to offer ROPS for current models that did not come with ROPS. My JD 757 didn't come with one and even I have had a few scares (yeah, even me - refer to avatar pic :rolleyes: ), and see the need. However, if it were non-foldable like the new 757's I've seen they might as well keep 'em.

PS I'm not knocking Deere. . .I'm a proud owner and loyal fan. . .but this forum makes a great resource for manufacturers to listen in [hint]

08-12-2005, 12:04 AM
i hate rops, if a hill is dangerous, i don't take the job or weed whack it

08-12-2005, 12:31 AM
Honestly, Nothing against older people....but 70 is a bit on aged side to be in this type of business....

And why is that? Work too strenuous? Reaction time too slow? Maybe older folks take it a bit slower. What would be a good age to quit doing this type of business?
One incident listed the operator as 20 yrs old. Maybe that is too young for this business.
Personally I don't think age was a factor in either accident. It was operator error, poor judgement, and damned unfortunate.

08-12-2005, 12:37 AM
I have my ROPS folded down, but i'll be using my seat belts when in similar situations from now on. As a forklift mechanic, we're taught to "ride it out" should your forklift roll over. I would have to say that would be the best thing to do in this case also. should you realize that you're going over (and you ARE seat belted in) you should hold your arms as close to your body as possible and if you can, slide your feet under the frame or deck lift assist pedal, in order to keep them from getting crushed outside of the operators area.

I've seen people "ride it out" and walk away on forklifts..... i've seen only pictures of the people who tried to jump, it's usually the roll cage that crushes them.

Just my 2 cents.

08-12-2005, 01:04 AM
I've heard of ROPS catching on tree branches or other objects causing the mower to flip backwards. Maybe they do more harm than good in some situations.

08-12-2005, 06:30 AM
And why is that? Work too strenuous? Reaction time too slow? Maybe older folks take it a bit slower. What would be a good age to quit doing this type of business?
One incident listed the operator as 20 yrs old. Maybe that is too young for this business.
Personally I don't think age was a factor in either accident. It was operator error, poor judgement, and damned unfortunate.

As I had said in my post Poor judgement/operator error is what cause these most likely, I said nothing about age as a contributing factor...You do bring up good point about age, anolder person willhave slower reaction time, as well as being more susepticle to the heat. We all know that when it gets hot some rational thinking goes out the door, espcially later in the day. So its possible the older man was in the prelim stages of heat stress and was not thiking clearly, or was tired of string triming and decied to push the envelope...

I can understand and applaud the guy for wanting to work and also understand the need, given that retirement plans and SS are laughable....I hope that the only time I am doing lawn work at 70 is on my own property. and if I need to make ends meet, maybe I'd work in a garden center or nursery for some extra $$

BTW I think ROPS are laughable as well, heck if your can;t get 100% compliance on a seat belt Law, how are you gonna get 100% compliance to wear a seat belt on a mower... I almost think the "wheelie" bars would be the better solution to ROPS, and i would think most rollovers are front to back rolls rather than right/left rolls.

08-12-2005, 07:02 AM
Anyone who would mow with their seat belt on and the rops folded is a candidate for the Darwin Award.

The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome
by honoring those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways.
Of necessity, this honor is generally bestowed posthumously.

Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgment.

All the mower manufacturers have a 24/7 number for notification of any accident using their equipment. Anyone care to guess why they want this information.

Remember, this country is run by attorneys and they don't work cheap.

I have 5 eXmark Lazers going out today and I will personally go over the safety equipment with each customer and encourage them to watch the safety video before using the mower.

You can lead them to water but you can't make them drink

08-15-2005, 01:41 PM
"BTW I think ROPS are laughable as well, heck if your can;t get 100% compliance on a seat belt Law, how are you gonna get 100% compliance to wear a seat belt on a mower... I almost think the "wheelie" bars would be the better solution to ROPS, and i would think most rollovers are front to back rolls rather than right/left rolls."

Fact: most rollovers are not front to back rolls, some are, but most are not. Most back over rolls involved drop offs where "wheelie" bars would not have prevented the rollover or the resulting death. It has been proven that ROPS on equipment saves lives, just as seat belts in automobiles save lives. Your choice either way.

08-15-2005, 02:18 PM
Actually, seat belts are not a choice, its the law. I do wear mine though.

But in a given situation I would not wear a seatbelt on a lawn mower....I can imagine hitting bumps and either having my inards shaken like a dry martini in a james bond flick or having the belt so loose so that I can work with bumps, in which case a loose seatbelt is as bad as none at all. Having to get off the mower to pick up a piece of paper is already tedious. Stop forward motion, put drive sticks in neutral position, engage parking break, turn off blades, throttle back, and now remove seat belt. Albeit, if you did a proper walk through(who still does those) you would have picked up the paper, hose, toys, ect. The key is to know your equipment and know whats safe and whats not. Its a shame that we lost these guys, but its also a shame that they operated a machine outside of its performance envelope, and ultimately who's fault is that...

08-17-2005, 01:50 PM

Lawn Masters
08-17-2005, 02:37 PM
In our industry, common sense, and some planning can avoid most accidents, though some cannot be avoided.

Its a shame those folks passed on, but its operator error NOT mower error.

BTW, on ROPS, I'd love to see a canopy for them, make our jobs that much less risky from heat. I dont know why JD and others havent already though of this, its a VERY OBVIOUS solution to make the ROPS system look like it serves a purpose to the unknowing user.

08-17-2005, 02:45 PM
mowing on too steep/ too wet of a slope.....Operator error...IMO

It' too bad that there is no way to duplicate these accidents to see if a rops would have indeed saved his life...

Id like to know what type/brand of equipment was involved, I know that would be a black eye against that particular manufacturer, but it would be nice to see if there was a trend with a certain brand, size, ect...

As I was looking for stuff I saw this. http://www.ridinglawnmowersafety.com/index.html

Great...lets sue the mower manufacturers becasue I ran over someones kid with their mower...WTF :dizzy:

08-17-2005, 03:47 PM
They do make them.....http://www.tufftop.net/ 299-370 bucks....thats a lot of $$ for some shade.....

Lake Claire Lawn Ranger
08-17-2005, 05:06 PM
As I was looking for stuff I saw this. http://www.ridinglawnmowersafety.com/index.html
This is typical these days. Let me sue someone because I too stupid to operate a mower. :dizzy:

08-17-2005, 06:06 PM

Too steep or too wet? Perhaps. At what point does it become too steep or too wet? Where exactly do you draw the line? At what angle do you become uncomfortable on your Z? Certainly these accidents sadly involve operator error, but we are all human and as such we all make mistakes. How stupid does the mistake have to be for us to deserve death as a result? To me it's very sad when a mistake results in a serious accident, especially when a safety device could have prevented tragedy.

There have been many accidents that have resulted in death and serious injury using ride on mowers of all types, but especially Z mowers. These accidents have occurred on ALL major brands of Z mowers. The incident rate is roughly proportional to population of units in use.

I've personally investigated a fair number of these accidents and am aware of the circumstances of many more. I can tell you that in almost every case ROPS would have made the difference. Computer simulations show this and yes accidents have actually been duplicated to prove this. The first thing to consider is that these machines are very heavy and the typical roll over occurs in less than 2 seconds. Trust me, in most cases; you will not have time to bail out. Once over you will be trapped under the machine. The weight bearing on you will not only prevent you from escape, it will crush you and you will be unable to breath. It does not matter if you are in water--within five to ten minutes you will be dead. That is if head injuries had not already killed you.

I must emphasize that, although many accidents occur in situations where the danger is obvious, in many, it was not quite so.

Right now it is everyone's choice whether to use ROPS or not. That's okay, but my concern is that too many people make that choice while not totally aware of the dangers and/or are not informed enough to recognize every dangerous situation even though they think they do.

08-18-2005, 06:57 AM
Ive been around mowers long enough to know my limitations (which is probably just as important as the limitation of the machine itself) and those of my machine. Now if I come to your house and hop on your mower my comfort level would be less, at lot less.

If I reach under any mower while the blades are in operation, do I deserve to die..NO, do I deserve to be separated from my fingers...You Bet.....

There are always grades of Operator error from minor, running over a coke can and causing a window to break, driving to too close to an ac unit and knocking it off of its pad, to the the extreme of cutting in a ditch or slope that is too steep...Now a ROPS could have pevented the death, But how about preventing the accident in the first place. ROPS is a knee jerk/legal reaction as a result of poor descion making on the part of the operator, and an ambulance chasing lawyer....

Ever been in a man lift and tried to operate it outside of its Envelope of operation...You can't it wont let you....It will prevent movement of the machine/bucket if it senses that the bucket portion will travel outside of the safe zone. Manufacturers could probably put a "level" operation switch on a Z-type machine such that if a mower is tilted beyond the 15-20*(or whatever is demed safe by the Operators manual for that particular machine) it shuts itself off... That way they don't need to have a ROPS and we don't have to lift all of our trees to 8'.

Now there would need to be some sort of override switch such that the machine could be loaded and unloaded. a small switch assembly weighs alot less than 1/4" tube steel, and with the price of steel going up, its gotta be cheaper, and whats one more wire on the machine...to actually help prevent some one from putting themself into a dangerous situation or being just plain dumb.

If I purchase a machine, Its up to me to train my employees in its safe operation. If I don't and someone gets hurt, then my a$$ is in a sling, and one my guys is hurt. That why I only have 4 people who know how to run the skid loaders and back hoe and fork/man lift...8 more people in the operations of the riding mowers, and every on the two stroke and walk behinds.

ABS is now common place on cars, but for the longest time it was an option, an option that probably helped prevent many accidents. Since I did not purchase ABS on my vehicle and I was involved in an accident that killed me, is the automobile manufactures fault for not giving me ABS. Or nowadays, stabilty control on SUV's is the hot item...make it standard, don't make it some eliteist option....

The mower manufactures could put more safety switches/operator presence swicthes than Carter had liver pills. We are not sitting behind a desk(most of the time) doing TPS Reports, screwing with fax machines or playing office politics. We are sitting atop, or walking behind or holding a machine with lots of power, spinning blades, Hot temperatures and loud niose. This is not a safe work environment and you must give the equipment the respect it deserves, if you don't you will pay for it...The severity of the price you pay depends soley on the operator and what they are willing to risk.

I still think it would be nice to have published reports from all mower and equipment makers on accidents and equipment involved...Such that we could all learn whensomeone makes a mistake....But since we are not really regulated by the feds, and so many people working under the radar screen, it will never occur.

Although Maybe we should set up an Accident Topic such that we can post our horror stories...for others...

08-18-2005, 07:43 AM
All the rhetoric about ROPS will not make any difference.

They are here to stay and get used to using them.

I remember when people refused to drive on radial tires and would have them taken off immediately after purchasing a new vehicle. There were people who refused to buy vehicles with disc brakes. ABS was considered an additional, unnecessary expense by many of those who had a choice. The number of people, especially pickup truck owners, who cut the seat belts from their vehicles would amaze anyone who can't remember seeing a vehicle without belts.

My thinking is the manufacturers will make the ROPS an integral part of the mowers if there are injuries to operators who are mowing with the ROPS removed. They could very easily make the ROPS a structural part of the chassis and non removable.


08-18-2005, 08:00 AM
I agree, they are here, But IMO there are better ways to engineer the equipment to be safer... And who makes teh call on whay piec eof equipment needs ROPS....Will you ever see a Walker with ROPS?...I bet they could push the enegine on the Z's lower in the chassis to keep it less prone to flipping, but will they?

08-18-2005, 01:47 PM
What do you consider too steep? Most manufacturers tell you not to operate their Z mowers on slopes greater than 15 degrees. Get an inclinometer and go measure some slopes. You will be very surprised at how gentle a 15 degree slope is. You will most likely consider this a joke. The problem is it is almost impossible to determine what a safe slope is. It is too dependent on the conditions and as you know conditions vary day to day and even from hour to hour. Loss of traction is dependent on many things. Tire pressure, tire tread condition, moisture in the grass, how wet the grass is, how thick and lush the grass is, the type of grass, the length of the grass, the condition of the soil supporting the grass, and so on and so on. You can mow a given slope for years with no problem, then one day conditions are just right and an accident occurs. I cannot honestly tell you exactly at what angle that a slope becomes dangerous. An accident could occur on a slope under 15 degrees if the conditions were just right. Iíve seen accidents occur on slopes that Iíd bet would surprise everyoneóas such, I can only tell you that the greater the steepness the greater the risk, but it never goes away completely. Another factor is that the hill does not have to be very high for an accident to occur. A hill only several feet high most likely will not be recognized as dangerous.

As for manufactures making the machines safer rather than adding ROPS, if you could tell them exactly how to do that Iím sure they would be very open to the suggestions. I will tell you many many hours have been spent by manufactures in trying to come up with ways to make these machines safer. Lowering the cg would certainly help, but there is only so far you can go and although this may make some improvement, it would not be significant enough to prevent all accidents. A wider stance would help, but do you want the tires wider than the deck? More aggressive tires would help, but who wants to tear up the turf? More weight to the rear would help, but then the machine would be more likely to tip over backwards. Kill switches have been discussed, but do you really want your machines to kill on a slope? Iíll bet you would not be pleased with this occurring at 15 degrees. It is assumed most would bypass these switches.

What machines should have ROPS? From my knowledge of accidents I would say all of them. However, there is a significant difference between mid-mount Zs and out-front Zs like the Walker in how they respond on slopes. With a mid-mount Z the cg is in front of the drive tires. When you lose traction, the machine tends to dive down the hill making it difficult to recover. Or it will slide sideways with the rear slightly down hill. This depends on the exact weight distribution and even the size of the operator. Either case occurs quickly and is difficult to recover from. On the other hand, an out-front Z has its cg located behind the drive tires. When the up hill tire begins to lose traction, the machine will actually attempt to turn up hill and sliding is minimal. Usually you can recover by just backing up.

08-18-2005, 02:07 PM
I forgot one important thing on the reason for not putting on a kill switch. Many accidents have occurred due to drop offs while the operator was mowing on relatively flat ground. Either by backing over, driving too close, or the ground giving way. These are truly operator mistakes and not the fault of the machine. A kill switch would not have prevented the accident. The problem is too many of these cases have occurred and therefore the manufactures must recognize these as foreseeable misuse of the product. A manufacturer is liable and responsible for protecting users from foreseeable misuse. Unfortunately ROPS is the only way to do this.

Richard Martin
08-18-2005, 03:27 PM
A wider stance would help, but do you want the tires wider than the deck?

The right rear tire on most commercial Dixie Choppers (read that as 60") actually does stick out beyond the blade cut. About 3 inches.

08-19-2005, 07:05 AM
" It is assumed most would bypass these switches."
At this point then the manufacturer is absolved of all responsibility....Case closed....Once a peice of equipment leaves a dealers and and the consumer modifies it they are doing so at their own risk.

I am aware that on any given day, a hill can be very dangerous and very different based on conditions. I imagine that we have all done something foolish enough to induce what I call the "pucker factor" In that we have come very close to hurting ourselves or someone else unintentionaly and by virture of dumb luck, fast reflexes, or a combination of the two we did not sh*t our pants and become a statistic. This is a lesson, sometimes lessons are painful....

My Mom was using their walker and the slope gave way and the mower ended up in the drink. She was cutting next to a canal in florida, a bank that hade no type of stabilization. Was it the manufactures fault that the ground gave way, the customers fault, Nope...operators fualt.....We got lucky. no injury. But she did almost cut her finger off with a pair of Felco's once...

If we use your logic, then we better make jack hammers out of rubber so they are not so loud that they cause people to loose their hearing, since we cannot make them wear ear protection. I guess we need to stop welding, since the Intense UV rays can casue blindness and sunburn if you don't wear the proper equipment....Lets make all the mowers with fully welded roll cages and be done with it then....I wonder how many broken ankles there are as a result of people backing up with velke's on their walk behinds and the velke jack-knifing.....A folding ROPS is uselss if it is not unlfolded, and any rops is useless if the seatbelt is not worn....I guess we better put safety switches on the seat belts and folding rops to make sure they are in use and in place or the machien wont operate, but by your own admission the safety would be by passed. Heck maybe make a statemant in the owners manual that by diabling the safey devices you void the full warranty and make it so the switches are tamper proof and make it so the machines are only repairable by factory trained technicians....You'll sell a lot of mowers that way and increase the employment of mechanincs.....

I don't think that I am a nut case, but I am honestly getting very tired of the government and corporate america trying to protect us from our own stupidity....Yes I know they do it as a result of the stupid people getting lawyers. But I blame the judges and lawyers for making it so easy for people to earn money for being stupid. Now if you are strapped into a mower and the mower tips over and the ROPS fails, then you got my attention....

Sicne you seem to be an insider at a manufacturer, With the ROPS on, and the operator straped in. A tipover occures, the blades will not disengage unless they are turned off as the operators presence safety switch will be engaged, and also, will the mower tend to roll like a ball down a hill or with the rops or will it stop the tumble quickly... Just curious more than anything...

We must learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others....If we do not learn from them, we are doomed to repeat them.

08-19-2005, 11:05 AM

One of the points I was trying to make is that most of the people involved in these accidents are NOT stupid. Some of them took dumb chances, but most did not.

Yes, Iíve known of accidents that the person was totally stupid, but for far too many, I could say ďwow, that could have easily been meĒ. Because of this, I never drive a Z without ROPS up and seatbelt on.

I believe that you understand the limitations of your equipment, but again many do not. I also think you gained this understanding through hard experience, some of that experience resulted in near mishaps that could have ended differently. I also believe you care about your crew and take special care to make sure they are well trained in the limitations of the equipment. I wish more would do this.

I donít think you are a nut case, your comments are very good and show clear thinking. You make many very good points. Also you are for individual responsibility, which is a good thing and I applaud you for it, weíve swung too far away from people taking personal responsibility for their actions in this country. On the other hand, there has been some good come out of the legal system. We are a lot safer today in our vehicles and with much of the equipment we use as compared to yesterday. However, your question is very valid, ďhow far should this go?Ē I donít know the answer and I really donít want to get into a debate over that, it is not my purpose.

I see a lot of bashing of ROPS on this site. So be it. I believe manufacturers will continue to look for better alternatives. But in the meantime, they are being provided for your safety. Yes, one of the reasons may be due to the legal ramifications, but believe it or not it is also considered the right thing to do. But like a seat belt in a car, whether the law requires it or not, you can choose to use it or not. My hope is that more people choose to use them.

My comments are not condoned by any manufacturer and as such I do not speak for any manufacturer. But, I have knowledge that perhaps due to the legal ramifications is not getting out there. My purpose on this forum is to inform that serious accidents and deaths are not rare occurrences on mowing equipment. That ROPS can and does save lives. Maybe someone will listen.

What happens when a machine rolls over with ROPS? That depends on the situation. First, mid-mount Z mowers donít just tip over. There are several scenarios that can cause this. First a machine loses traction, slides and then hits something such as a culvert. In this case if the culvert was near the bottom of the hill, the machine will end up on its side. Although the operator will be held in the seat with the seatbelt, his weight will be off of the seat, blades will disengage. If the culvert was higher up the hill (rare) then the machine may go over a full 180 degrees and end up upside down. It will not tumble. In this case, the operator would be hanging upside-down; no weight in the seat and the seat switch would cut off the blades. Another scenario would be a backwards tip over, this occurs going up a steep hill or sometimes up trailer ramps. In this case the machine usually will end up resting on the ROPS with the front end pointing up in the air. All other accidents involve drop offs in some way. With drop offs (unless they are very high) the results are similar to the hill slide and tip. Generally the machine will end up on its side with the ROPS preventing it from going completely over or on its back if it were backed over the drop off.

As far as the seatbelt used with the ROPS, certainly it is best to be worn with the ROPS, however, Iíd rather see someone on a machine with no seatbelt and a ROPS than no ROPS. With out ROPS the result is clear. With the ROPS and no seatbelt, I believe in most cases the machine would not end up on top of the operator.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments!

08-19-2005, 12:43 PM
I awlays enjoy delightful and thought provocing discussions that don't turn into flame wars.

I did take the rops and seat belt off of the scag wild cat. it was standard, and at this point in time, not mandated, If I had one mower with a rops and the other without I know with out a shadow of a doubt the Union would have made me purchase the rops for the older machine. I am awell aware that by the time I make my next equipment purchase for a riding mower ROPS will be mandated and I will have no option but to leave it in place and lift the tree canopy a bit. I am terrified of the guys hitting a branch and getting injured form a fallingbranch or going over back wards. Currently aside from the wildcat's ROPS, all other safety devices are in place from the guards on the weedy's down to the chain stops on the stihl saws.

I think some sort of tamperproof level sensing shutoff is the way to go....but I doubt it will happen, unless it is somehow embebed into an ECU (brain) for the mower so it is not able to be disabled. only temporarily by passed for loading and unloading purposes only, and then only at reduced power with no blade engagement.

Lets start working on this and see if we can sell it to the mower makers and get rich .. : ) we'll split the profit 40/40 and give 20% to lawnsite.com

My own personal machines are a diffferent story though.....

08-20-2005, 12:31 PM
I will think about that!

08-22-2005, 08:49 AM

08-22-2005, 08:56 AM
as quoted from the article "Only two months after Pierre fulfilled that ambition, his Boynton Beach family was tending to funeral arrangements on Sunday after he was killed on the job."

So a newbie to the business....Gotta respect the machines...and the conditions.