This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1), the General Duty Clause of the Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Between 2000 and 2006, OSHA investigated over 50 rollover incidents that involved a variety of roller/compactor makes and models. Of the rollover accidents investigated:
The fatal accidents in the last two bullets above are the focus of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB), and are described in detail below.
The purpose of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin is to:
The OSHA Englewood Area Office investigated two fatal accidents in 2005 in southern Colorado involving the rollover of pneumatic rubber-tired roller/compactors. The machines involved in these fatal accidents were produced by different manufacturers, but they were very similar in nature. Each machine had pneumatic rubber tires and a low center of gravity. These machines are often used in the compacting process during road construction and paving operations.
In both cases, OSHA concluded that if the machine had been equipped with a ROPS system, and if the operator had been wearing a seatbelt, the likelihood of the operator's survival would have increased significantly.
Roller/Compactor Involved in Accident #1
(ROPS and seatbelts were removed prior to the accident)
Roller/Compactor Involved in Accident #2
(ROPS was not provided and the operator was not wearing a seatbelt)
A ROPS is a protective frame that is mounted on the machine and extends above the operator's seat (see Figure 1). In addition to bearing the weight of the machine during a rollover event, ROPS are designed to minimize the likelihood that the machine will overturn completely, thereby reducing the possibility that the operator will be crushed as a result of rollover or upset. A principle applied in ROPS design is to restrict the overturn to no more than 90 degrees.  A ROPS may be designed with one, two, or four posts, and it may have a canopy overhead; the canopy may be designed as part of the ROPS. Some machines have a single-post ROPS with a canopy that extends to the sides which is designed to absorb the impact of a rollover.
ROPS need to be used in combination with a seatbelt. As discussed in the Preface, operators who do not use seatbelts may be ejected from the machine and then crushed between the machine and the ground. The operator can even strike the ROPS as the operator is thrown from the equipment. A ROPS only provides protection if the operator remains in the seat. In some investigations, OSHA noted that operators had removed their seatbelts and jumped from the equipment, negating the protection offered by a ROPS.
During the investigation of Accidents #1 and #2, it was determined that ROPS were available for both machines. In Accident #1, the ROPS had been removed by the employer for convenience during a previous project and had not been replaced. In Accident #2, the machine had initially been sold without ROPS, but an aftermarket ROPS had been developed, tested and was available.
The Center to Protect Workers Rights (CPWR), through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), evaluated 58 roller/compactor overturn accidents and summarized the results in a report titled Compactor Overturns and Rollover Protective Structures (M. Meyers, April 2004). This report highlighted a number of hazards associated with rollovers, including:
During the course of OSHA's investigations, it was determined that if the machines involved in these accidents had been equipped with ROPS, and if the operators had been wearing seatbelts, the likelihood of the operator's survival would have increased significantly.
While OSHA does not have a standard requiring employers to use ROPS or seatbelts for this type of roller/compactor equipment, it is important for employers to understand that under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act (section 5(a)(1) of the Act), employers must provide their employees with a workplace that is free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. It is OSHA's position that the hazard of equipment rollover is a "recognized hazard" within the meaning of the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. [3, 4]
In cases where the employer chooses to operate these types of machines in areas where the potential for rollover is present (e.g., loading or unloading, operating on slopes or near slope edges, etc.) and the equipment is not equipped with ROPS and seatbelts, a General Duty Clause violation may exist.
In addition, OSHA's Construction Standard "General safety and health provisions," 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(4), states "the employer shall permit only those employees qualified by training or experience to operate equipment and machinery." Section 1926.21(b)(2), "Safety training and education," states further that "the employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions…."
Therefore, employers performing construction work are required to ensure that roller/compactor operators are trained to use the equipment properly and to understand how to recognize those situations and conditions that pose a rollover hazard. For example, operators need to understand that:
Although OSHA does not have a standard that requires ROPS for roller/compactor equipment, OSHA does have construction and agriculture standards that have requirements for ROPS involving other types of equipment. Specifically, OSHA's Construction Standard 29 CFR 1926.1001 sets minimum performance criteria for ROPS for certain scrapers, loaders, dozers and graders, and crawler tractors, and 29 CFR 1926.1002 sets requirements for ROPS frames for the protection of operators of wheel-type agricultural and industrial tractors used in construction. OSHA's Agriculture Standard 29 CFR 1928.51(b)(2)(i)(A) requires ROPS for tractors used in agricultural operations, as well as seatbelts where ROPS are required. 29 CFR 1928.52 and 1928.53 establishes test and performance requirements for protective frames and protective enclosures designed for wheel-type agricultural tractors to minimize the frequency and severity of operator injury. These standards are beyond the scope of this SHIB, but noted for informational purposes. However, to ensure that ROPS used by the construction industry will protect roller/compactor operators, OSHA recommends that construction employers use ROPS on these machines that comply with the testing requirements specified by these standards.
Employers using roller/compactors should evaluate their worksites and operations to identify potential rollover hazards. Although the conditions that cause such hazards may not be present at one construction site, they may be present at the next one. Therefore, OSHA recommends that as a matter of practice in all cases, employers should institute the following measures:
The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.