Know How to Handle Big Bales (News Release)

Most operators try to bale hay quickly to avoid adverse weather and a consequent reduction in hay quality. Unfortunately, such haste can cause fatigue and the use of shortcuts that result in accidents.

Large round bales multiply the dangers of taking shortcuts. Often bales reach a weight of 1,500-2,000 lb. and can be hazardous. Operators without proper equipment and knowledge about big bales may find themselves in a situation in which the bale rolls backwards down raised loader arms, or causes the tractor to overturn. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, four tractor operators in these situations were fatally crushed in a three-year period by large round bales.

Here are some safety tips:

  • Never try to stop a rolling bale. They have the momentum of a subcompact car traveling at the same speed.
  • Make sure your tractor and loader are large enough to safely handle bales. The uneven weight distribution affects stability. Rollovers are common if equipment is not used correctly.
  • Always use a grapple hook if you have a front-end loader. This keeps bales from rolling back onto the loader arms in the raised position.
  • Try to keep the bale on the up-slope side of the tractor during transport. This may mean you need to put the transmission in reverse and back up a hill when using a rear-mounted spike, or that you back down a hill when using a front-end loader.
  • Avoid driving across a slope with a large round bale. Never drive with the front-end loader in the upright position.

For more information about baling safety, contact the _______ County Extension office for a free copy of Reduce Risks around Big Round Bales, Pm-1518g.

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: July 1993.

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