HSE farm safety tips: Bale stacking

Each month HSE head of agriculture Rick Brunt gives his advice on how to stay safe on-farm. Here, he tackles bale stacking.

Stacking is a widespread activity, but not the most straightforward task.

A surprising number of injures and deaths are caused by people either falling off stacks, or bales falling on to people.

Knowing how to handle bales is a skill that has to be learned and practised.

Rick BruntRick Brunt
Head of
  • Structure bales so that layers overlap, avoiding tall columns, which can peel off and collapse once they settle.
  • Where round bales are stacked in a pyramid, the top bale can force the others out, so use something to chock them to prevent them from rolling.
  • Stacking round bales on their flat end can also be unstable, so if you must do it that way stack them in a building to prevent them from collapsing.
  • Stacks are made of unstable material than can shift. Check them regularly for signs of movement and be prepared to take them down and re-stack them.
  • Think about where you stack bales. Ensure the ground is stable and that you are at least 10m away from power lines to allow for handling equipment to move safely and to prevent electricity arcing to the stacks and shocking people.
  • Remember that stacks can be tempting places for children to play. Climbing or tunnelling into stacks can cause them to collapse. Make sure stacks aren’t easy to access – don’t leave ladders leaning up against them.

See also: Straw fire adds to Shropshire farm blaze toll