Know Hazards of Large Round 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, says __________, ______________.

"Large round bales multiply your risks when you take shortcuts," s/he explains. "Those bales can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds, the same as a small car, so you need to know how to handle them."

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, four tractor operators were fatally crushed in a three-year period by large round bales. _______ says most accidents occur during transport. A bale may roll backwards onto the operator from raised front-end loader arms. Uneven weight distribution of the bale also can make the tractor less stable and contribute to tractor rollover.

Balers also pose safety problems. Moving pick-up tines and the power take-off unit are equally as dangerous on balers that make large bales as those that make small, square bales. Operators often misjudge the speed and power of the baler, s/he says. They also need to be prepared for fire, caused by a combination of hot, dry weather conditions, friction from belts and chains, and readily combustible hay.

______ offers these safety tips:

  • Never try to stop a rolling bale. Large round bales 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. 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," _______ explains. "If you cannot keep the bale uphill from you, drive slowly and don't make any sudden movements."

  • Avoid driving across a slope with a large round bale. Never drive with the front-end loader in the upright position.
  • Always take the time to disengage the power take-off unit and shut off the engine before you get off the tractor.
  • Keep a Class ABC fire extinguisher on your tractor for emergencies.

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