Bale handling safety


Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

“To increase the safety of baling procedures while ensuring the job gets done, look for hazards related to baler operation, handling, transporting and stacking,” says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety awareness coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Once you identify hazards, make the necessary changes to ensure the safety of all workers.”

Hazards include:


  • Ensure no children play near hay balers, carriers and stackers.
  • Properly train workers operating tractors, front-end loaders or forklifts.
  • Tractors with cabs, FOPS (falling object protective structure) or four-poster ROPS (rollover protective structure) used to lift round bales are essential. Two-poster tractor ROPS offer no operator protection from bales falling back off forks or bale-loading frames.
  • Ensure bale-loading attachments on tractors and forklifts are secure and well fitted.
  • Carry bales as low to the ground as possible.
  • Ensure sufficient counterbalance on tractor or forklift vehicle.
  • Hydraulic control valve should be specific to the front-end loader attachment.

Baler operation

  • Ensure baler is properly connected to the tractor.
  • Make certain adequate safety guards are properly fitted.
  • Never allow anyone to ride on the baler.
  • Prevent others from getting too close to the baler.
  • Watch for and clear any build-up of loose, combustible material in the baler.
  • Ensure an updated fire extinguisher is fitted to the machine.
  • Stop engine, disengage PTO and apply flywheel brake – on square balers – prior to making adjustments or repairs.
  • Extra care and attention should be made when reversing or turning the machine.
  • Work during the day when there is adequate lighting.


  • Stack bales on even ground.
  • Stacks should be clear of overhead power lines.
  • Stacked round bales should be adequately chocked and the borders posted.
  • Watch for and replace damaged bales at base of stack.
  • Stack bales tightly and at a stable height.
  • Do not stack bales higher than safe operating height of farm tractor or forklift.
  • Never allow children to play on stacked bales.
  • Do not handle more bales than is safe for the loader.


  • Carry heavy loads of bales with a sturdy trailer.
  • Ensure proper restraining frames on the back and front of trailer.
  • Use fitted hooks to secure load with ropes.
  • Watch for overhead power lines on or near roads.
  • Avoid rough terrain that can cause bales to become unstable. Travel at safe speeds at all times.
  • People should never ride on loaded hay trailers. This is highly dangerous.


Connect with the Alberta Farm Safety Program:

Toll free: 310-FARM (3276)

For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line:
Phone: 780-422-1005