Beautiful to see in a field, but deadly
Just when I was thinking about doing a fun farm safety blog I received notice of two deaths related to round bales and tractor accidents. The first notice came from Audrey, a co-worker in Extension’s RavR program. In the most recent Dairy Herd Management issue, it was noted that a farmer was killed by a round bale rolling back on him. He was using a front loading tractor. The second notice came in today’s Burlington Free Press, pg. 3B, that my co-work Kurt sent me. The Free Press does not have it on line where I can find it, but here is a link on line. This farmer died after his tractor hit a round bale, then tipped the tractor over and pinned him.
Round bales are heavy and the risk of being injured is well documented by NIOSH. Medium round bales weigh 700-900 pounds and large ones 1200-1500 pounds. Once one starts rolling and gaining momentum, even trying to stop it with a tractor is dangerous.
According to the National Ag Safety Database here are some suggestions.
What Can You Do? Large round bales require special care in handling. You can be safe around this hazard by following these tips:
- Obtain and use a grapple hook if a front-end loader will be used for bale transport.
- For sloping fields, plan to make windrows parallel to contours.
- Plan a safe route out of the field when you transport bales. Avoid rough terrain.
- Always turn off the engine before you get off the tractor.
- Replace broken or worn pick-up tines and belts.
- Keep the twine feeder in good repair.