RECENT statistics from The Health & Safety Executive reported that within agriculture, 11 percent of fatal injuries and 12 percent of non-fatal injuries are caused by being ‘struck by moving or falling objects.’

Edith Jones, Account Executive at H&H Insurance Brokers with this in mind gives tips when moving and storing bales this year.

“Promoting farm health and safety across the agricultural sector is paramount to our team at H&H Insurance Brokers. There are a number of critically important safety precautions that need to be considered as we move through the seasons throughout each year. Ensuring bales are secure when being transported or stored for example should not only be highlighted during harvest time, but all year round, as these recent statistics illustrate.

“When moving bales, it is imperative that properly designed, constructed and maintained bale handling equipment is used, as well as trailers or vehicles that allow loads to be fully secured. It is also essential to check that axles and tyres are strong enough to cope with the maximum loads imposed on them.

“Another important aspect to take into account is the weight of any load and handling equipment. For example, a telescopic handler lifting three big bales may be carrying a load of nearly 2 tonnes, while a lorry trailer carrying 36 big bales may be carrying a load of more than 20 tonnes. Do not lift or stack bales higher than the capabilities of the handling equipment being used, and do not carry a bale or bales on a loader or telescopic handler that obscure the driver’s vision.

“Tyre pressures have to also be set correctly, and trailers need to be securely connected to their tractor or towing vehicle. Any bale/hay racks etc are securely attached to trailers, and you need to ensure any loads are stable, as roping an unstable load will not make it safe. Devices for handling bales, such as clamps, grabs and spikes must also be suitable for the type of bale being handled.

If you are using bale spikes, remember:

· It is better to use two or more spikes to ensure a bale is held securely. This will help to reduce the risk of a bale ‘spinning’ on the spike or coming loose.

· Longer spikes are safer for ensuring the stability of a load, but bales must be fixed securely otherwise the weight of the bales on the end of the spikes may cause the spikes to snap.

· Make sure spikes do not protrude so far through the bales that they are a danger to people.

· Remove, fold back or cover spikes both before travelling on the highway and when they are not required, so that they are not a danger to people and other road users.

“Additionally, always follow the ‘safe stop’ procedure before dismounting from a tractor or mobile machine. Fatal accidents have occurred where people did not follow safe stop and were impaled by a bale spike or crushed by a machine. Think: handbrake on, controls neutral, stop engine, and remove key moving bales by tractor.

“Finally, the centre of gravity is important when handling big bales, especially with a frontend loader.

· Keep the load as low as possible: a top-heavy load could lead to a backward or side overturn.

· Use controls smoothly, avoiding jerky movements and don’t travel too fast.

· Ensure there is adequate ballast on the front and rear to counterbalance the load. Insufficient ballast can make steering and braking difficult and could be dangerous in the field and on the road.”

For further information on the statistics reported, please visit: If you would like any further advice or guidance for your farm and its safety, please feel free to contact the H&H Insurance Brokers team on 01228 406 290.