RECENT figures show that five percent of farm workplace deaths are caused by falling bales.

With incidents involving bales tragically resulting in 18 deaths since 2000, H&H Insurance Brokers and IRM Safety, working together under the brand of H&H Safety, is promoting farm health and safety in the agricultural sector.

Neil Elsender, Managing Director of IRM Safety explains:“The farming community already knows that agriculture can be one of the most dangerous occupations and recent data shows that stacking and transporting bales is a significant safety risk. One of the main dangers of bale handling is being crushed or rolled over by bales, or getting trapped in tractors or other farm machinery when moving them from one place to another.”

He added: “Much of the work associated with bales can lead to fatal and serious accidents if not carried out safely. Considering their significant weight, and the inherent instability of stacks, precautions must be taken to protect farmers, workers and others in the vicinity during every stage of the bale handling.”

“Farmers and their workers should review their systems for storage, handling, and training to prevent avoidable tragedies. Incidents occur in the field during baling and transport, during their storage and subsequent de-stacking and handling, for example, when bedding or feeding animals. Building awareness of better health and safety practices can reduce likelihood of accidents and help keep insurance premiums down for your farming business,” said Neil.

Large round bales have been known to roll down slopes and cause harm, proving the importance of storing bales safely. Given the risks of heavy physical work, stacking requires skill.This means making sure that bales are stacked safely in fields, farmyards, or buildings and stacks are not excessively high; they are built on firm, dry, level and freely draining ground; and are constructed with a wide base and that bales are in good condition ensuring sturdy foundation. Maintenance of stacks should take place regularly - any that have become unstable should be rebuilt; there is enough space to allow tractors, trailers, and other vehicles to manoeuvre; never overreach for bales and limit working to near edges. Removing bales from the field and transporting them is also associated with health and safety risks.