HSE revises round baler rules after motorist death

New safety rules have been issued for round balers after a man was killed by a runaway bale last September.

Mike Edwards, the former cellist with 70s rock band the Electric Light Orchestra, died when a 600kg bale hit his van on a road near Totnes in Devon.

The baled had rolled 50m down a steep hill, over a hedge and on to the roof of his vehicle.

It is thought that Mr Edwards’s van then collided with an oncoming truck. 

To prevent similar freak accidents from occurring again, the Health and Safety Executive said it was necessary to revise the safety rules on round bales for farmers.

Baling on a hillside can cause obvious safety issues, the HSE said in its advice leaflet – Safe Use of Big Round Balers.

Reducing tractor slippage should be achieved by selecting a unit large enough to cope with the size of the baler.

Assessing where to eject bales should also be considered to minimise the risk of them rolling away, the leaflet said.
It also stated that, to reduce the risk of runaway bales, it may be necessary to reverse the baler to a position where bales could be ejected safely.

“If the hillside is particularly steep, consider transporting the bales elsewhere, to be ejected on to a flat piece of land,” the leaflet said.

“It is also important to know that once a bale is rolling, it’s far too dangerous to try to prevent its movement. Many people have died trying to stop rolling bales,” the HSE added.

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