Watch for Entanglement (News Release)

As you bale hay this month or prepare to harvest grain, don't forget that the upcoming months are the most dangerous season on Iowa farms.

The intake area on balers and combines poses entanglement or crushing hazards. They're also dangerous because of the machine's power and speed at which accidents can occur.

For example, a baler traveling at the speed of 3 miles per hour pulls in crops at a rate of about 4.4 feet per second. Snapping rolls on a cornhead pull in stalks at a rate of about 12 feet per second, and the edge of a combine reel travels 6 feet per second. Both machines move faster than an alert operator can react.

If you try to unplug a stalk in a live cornhead, the snapping rolls can pull the rest of the stalk, and your arm and hand, into the machine. This can happen in less than a second, faster than it would take for you to release the freed stalk.

Balers account for nearly half of the machine-related farm injuries reported to the National Safety Council. When harvesting hay or forage crops, remember these safety guidelines:

  • Never hand-feed twine into the baler.
  • Large round bales, which can weigh 1,200 to 1,500 pounds, pose problems during loading and transportation. Never transport a bale with the front-end loader raised. Uneven or sloping ground, or a quick turn, can cause the tractor to tip. To prevent the bale from rolling down the arms of a loader, use grapple hooks.
  • Always lock and block the baler rear gate to check, clean, or repair the machine. Combines also are very powerful to effectively handle large amounts of agricultural commodities. Remember these safety guidelines when working with combines:
  • Always disengage power and shut off the engine before unplugging the machine, or adjusting a belt or chain.
  • Lock and block the combine header before getting underneath it. Use the safety lock, rather than relying on the hydraulic system, which can fail. Lock the header for road travel to reduce stress on the hydraulic system.
  • Watch for uneven, bumpy, or sloping surfaces, which can cause the combine to become unstable and tip. Although combine rollovers are uncommon, they can occur because of the machine's high center of gravity.

Accident risks tend to rise as harvest wears on. By following these procedures, and taking occasional breaks, you can make your harvest season a safe one.

This news release was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: August 1992.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More