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Working Safely with Bales

An excellent guide to working safely with bales on the farm is available from the HSA.

In their information sheet, the HSA explains that twelve people were killed when working with bales on Irish farms between 2012 and 2014. With baled silage now made on over two-thirds of all farms in Ireland, knowing the correct handling procedures is vital.

A tractor in a field baling hay - safety on the farm

Among the points made in the document, the HSA recommend a safe stacking location for bales, preferably ‘… an uncluttered storage site from which the bales can be conveniently and safely removed at feeding time’ and that they should ‘be positioned well away from overhead power lines.’

With round bales, their advice is to store them on the flat end where space is available. For all stacking, their advice is to always put round bales on their curved sides in a pyramid stack, preventing the outside bottom row from moving with chocks or other supports.

Square bales, they advise, should be stacked using an unlocking pattern to tie-in the bales with the row underneath, and that the maximum height of such stacks should be no more than 1.5 times the width of the base. Importantly, they stress the risks of working on top of stacks due to the height, and the importance of safe handling procedures to avoid back injuries.

HSA also explains in detail how best to transport bales using tractors and loaders. Among the points they raise is the important one that drivers of machinery must ensure that their view is not obscured and that trailers and trucks used to transport bales must not be overloaded.

A number of silage bales in storage - safety on the farm

The information sheet also includes a useful and simple safety checklist, detailing the precautions that should be taken before working with bales on the farm.

The information sheet can be downloaded from the HSA website. For more information on how Emerald Health and Safety can help with your agri-business, contact Micheál at 086 368 6841 or Paudie at 086 351 3839.

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