For safety’s sake, read this list and check it twice

Haying often means rushing to beat the weather, and that ups the danger, says farm safety expert

There is a long list of potential hazards when baling, transporting,
 and stacking hay.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Baling season is once again in full swing. Many producers equate baling with hot summer days and a rush to beat the weather. While getting hay baled and off the field is a top priority, doing the job safely should take precedence.

“To increase the safety of baling procedures while ensuring the job gets done, look for hazards related to baler operation, handling, transporting, and stacking,” said farm safety coordinator Kenda Lubeck.

Here’s a list of potential hazards.


  • Ensure no children play near hay balers, carriers, and stackers.
  • Properly train operators handling tractors, front-end loaders, or forklifts.
  • Tractors with cabs, FOPS (falling object protective structure) or four-poster ROPS (roll-over protective structure) are highly recommended. Two-poster tractor ROPS offer no operator protection from bales falling back off of 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 a 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 fitted.
  • No one should ever be allowed to ride on 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.
  • Take extra care when reversing or turning the machine.
  • Work during the day when there is adequate lighting.


  • Land stack on even ground.
  • Stacks should be clear of overhead powerlines.
  • Stacked round bales should be adequately chocked and the borders posted.
  • Watch for 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 so ropes can be used to secure load.
  • Watch for overhead powerlines 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.

“After making this list, check each hazard that has been spotted to assess how likely this hazard is to injure someone, and how severe that injury would be,” said Lubeck. “After this hazard assessment, take the list of hay baling and stacking hazards and number them in order of priority, so that those most likely to cause injury or harm can be addressed first.”

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