Working with hay bales

Fatal and serious accidents can arise from work activities associated with bales including:

  • falls from bale stacks
  • falls from vehicles and machinery used to transport or stack bales
  • being struck by falling bales
  • electrocution from contact with overhead electricity power lines (OHPL)
  • trips and falls from loose bale string
  • contact with bale handling machinery such as elevators
  • fires.

Health problems associated with handling and stacking bales can be caused by:

  • lifting and carrying (manual handling related injuries, e.g. sore backs, pulled muscles and strains)
  • exposure to dust e.g. respiratory diseases and infections.

Hay bales vary in size, shape and weight. The weight and bulk of a fallen bale can cause serious crush injuries or death. To eliminate or reduce these risks:

  • use a tractor fitted with a well-maintained falling object protective structure (FOPS) that meets the requirements of Australian Standard 2294.1 –1997: Earth-moving machinery – Protective structures
  • ensure bales are secured by appropriate attachments (e.g. clamps, grabs or hay bale spikes) and the load is restrained when it is lifted or moved
  • ensure securing devices are suitable for the kind of bale being handled
  • use a tractor with a rear attachment to move large or round bales
  • do not move large bales in the bucket of a front end loader.
Last updated
07 October 2016