Safe Working With Bales
Creating stacks of bales is a task that requires care and skill. Poor stacking, loose string and other problems can create hazards for farm workers and the public.
Agricultural bales are the cause of a number of accidents.
- Workers fall from the bales or from the machinery they use to stack them.
- Trailing string from bales causes falls and trips.
- Loose string may cause bale machinery to fail and leads to an accident when someone attempts to pull the string out.
- Bales may fall onto workers or members of the public.
- Vandals and vermin may damage bales or set light to them.
- The dust from bales can cause respiratory problems.
- Stacking and moving bales can result in strains and damaged backs.
StackingCorrect stacking can help avoid some of these problems. Anyone who stacks bales must be aware of the correct way to do so. Some training and supervision may be necessary for people unused to this type of work.
Workers must have an appropriate level of strength and fitness. They should have gloves and masks, if appropriate. And a First Aid Kit should always be available.
Stacking SitesIt’s also important to use a proper site for bale stacking.
The ground must be dry and level with good drainage. There should be plenty of ventilation. And the bales should be away from any electricity lines or pipes that run under the ground.
Stones can make a good base for bales. They help to level the ground and can keep water away from the stack.
Ideally, stacks of bales should be fenced off from animals and the public. If the bales are near an area of public access, it may be wise to put up a Warning Sign that warns of the risks if people approach a stack.
Falling from HeightsA stack of bales can be far enough above the ground to cause a nasty injury if someone falls from the top. Farmers must make workers aware of this risk. They should also advise care when workers use ladders to gain access to the bales.
Stack ConstructionThe bottom of a stack is obviously the foundation for all the bales on top. The bottom bales should be good quality with firm edges.
As the stack increases in height, the bales should overlap those on the level below. This technique ‘ties’ the bales in and creates a stronger stack.
There should be no loose string to avoid the risk of tripping.
Small Square BalesA stack of small square bales should have an interlocking pattern. Workers stacking the bales should offset each layer and interlock it differently to the one below.
Big Square BalesStacks of big square bales should begin with a wide base. The higher the stack gets, the more it should narrow.
The maximum height of such a stack is one and a half times the base's width. It should also not exceed eight bales in height on fields, and ten bales on concrete or other types of hardstanding.