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Avoiding Rollovers and Runovers on the Farm

Mar 14, 2024

The agricultural industry is among the most hazardous ones in Canada from the perspective of raw fatalities. As a profession and a calling, farming offers a unique look at risk — rather than being something to avoid, it’s an attitude and culture which is baked into the job and an accepted fact of life.

March 14 – 20 is National Farm Safety Week. The Canada Safety Council seeks to remind Canadians in the agriculture industry that some risks are not worth taking.

Success isn’t about avoiding risks; it’s about making informed, intentional decisions on the types of risks worth taking It’s not about shying away from challenges but rather about choosing the challenges that align with our vision and values, propelling our organizations towards sustainable growth and lasting impact.

Gareth Jones

President and CEO, Canada Safety Council

According to a 2023 report by Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR), between 1990 and 2020 the country averaged 91 agriculture-related fatalities every year.

Though the fatality rate begins declining somewhat from 2006 onward (70 fatalities per year, down from 110 in the 16-year period prior), it is worth noting that more than half of the farms in Canada in 1990 are no longer in operation — leading to 571,033 fewer people on farms.

The most common causes of fatal injuries on the farm are machine-related (66 per cent), with nearly 30 per cent of these being due to machine rollovers, which is when heavy equipment tips onto its side or roof, and runovers, which occur when a machine under power or rolling on an incline runs over the victim.

Please read on for more information on how these occur and how best to avoid them.


  • Most rollover fatalities in Canada involve tractors.
  • While many rollovers lack documentation to determine the direction in which the vehicle rolled, almost half of known rollover fatalities occurred when the machine rolled on its side.
  • Avoid riding too close to edges that steeply drop off. This is the most immediate known cause of rollovers.
  • When traveling on an incline, use the shallowest slope available. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation on what an acceptable slope is and avoid traveling on a diagonal.
  • Install a Roll-Over Protection Structure on your tractor. These are roll bars or cages that are designed to create a protective zone around the operator in case of rollover.


  • Runovers occur most frequently with unmanned vehicles. This is most often seen when a machine is left running or unblocked on a slope.
  • It is also a common occurrence for bystanders to be victimized by runovers — the operator does not expect them to be in the area — and for operators to fall off the machine and fall under the wheels.
  • Notably, bystander fatalities tend to disproportionately include children between one and four years of age.
  • Supervise children closely, keeping them away from the farmyard when machinery is in operation.
  • Never stand in the direct path of a running tractor, even if it is not actively in motion.
  • Always block off machines that are not currently in use to eliminate the risk of it rolling of its own accord.

 Safety on the farm is so often about weighing the risks and determining which are risks worth taking — the risk, for example, of whether it will rain enough to make a certain crop viable, is one many agricultural workers deem worth the reward. However, where lives enter the equation, the thought process must switch away from, “Is this a risk worth taking?” and move toward “How can I do this in the safest way possible?” 

For more information, please contact:

Lewis Smith

Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council

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