Large US Industry Association Joins ROPS Discussion

By WCTA Staff

Representatives of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the US trade association representing 100+ domestic and international equipment manufacturers, recently contacted the Western Canada Turfgrass Association office looking for a powerpoint presentation made by Executive Director, Jerry Rousseau, to Kootenay area golf superintendents on the subject of rollover protection (ROPS) on golf carts.

The presentation had been circulated just a few days prior; OPEI was asking for permission to share it with their members including John Deere, Toro, Textron, Club Car, Kubota and others, in hopes of gaining further insight into the proposed WorkSafeBC amendments to Part 16 of the Mobile Equipment Regulation that would require ROPS and seat belts installed on golf carts used by workers.

Greg Knott, VP Standards and Regulatory Affairs stated via email, “The presentation was very informative especially considering we have had no direct reply from WorkSafeBC in response to our May comments.”  He added, “Based on your presentation, golf cars and low speed UTVs will continue to be a big concern.  US voluntary standards (OPEI Z130.1 & Z135, SAE J2235 and B56.7) do not require ROPS for low speed vehicles.  We are concerned about the safety and cost impacts of installing ROPS and seat belts into these categories of vehicles.”

Rousseau stated, “I was happy to oblige and am encouraged with OPEI’s interest in this issue.  I was also invited to attend a strategy meeting intended to better understand details within WorkSafe’s proposed amendments and their rationale behind those changes.  Moreover, OPEI members wanted to talk about next steps and discuss collaborative potential.”

A good part of that meeting focussed on technical standards for rollbars and seatbelts such as ANSI, ISO, SAE.  For example, SAE J2258 determines when ROPS and seatbelts are required and when they are optional, as in the case for light utility vehicles in the US.  Similarly, ISO 3471 summarizes ROPS requirements for light chassis vehicles and harmonizes that 3-point harnesses are not necessary for utility vehicles under 400kg.

Rousseau’s meeting contribution was in providing a brief historical perspective and detailing WCTA’s involvement on its own and through AGA-BC.  He explained, “I was given an opportunity to outline the steps we followed, from our initial written submission to participating in the public hearing process to sharing our in person meeting results with WorkSafeBC policy people.” He added, “They were very interested in our entire experience.  Burning questions from OPEI members were ‘Where do we go from here?’ and ‘Is AGA-BC planning additional lobbying?’”

AGA-BC President Trevor Smith indicated, “At this point there are still more questions than answers.  We need to consider everything from engineering concerns to enforcement and of course the considerable cost of ROPS and seatbelt installation that arguably would not result in a reduction in golf cart incidents.”  He concluded by saying, “As with other golf industry challenges, our best successes have come through our hired lobbyist and the AGA Board needs to immediately consider engaging a paid professional to approach government on this important issue.”