Farmers need to to be mindful of safety when transporting and storing square hay bales on farm.
While it may seem more convenient to simply stack square bales one on top of the other resulting in a large block, it is safer to stack square bales so that there are no straight walls or faces (see Figure 2). 'Stepping' the bales so that no more than two bales are stacked directly on top of one another will ensure more structural stability in the stack.
For square bales stored in a shed the end of the stack that is not supported by a wall should not have a straight face. Rather, the end of the stack should be 'stepped' to reduce the risk of the end bales collapsing.
Trying to get as many bales in the shed with a straight wall or face could come at the cost of a serious injury or fatality.
Clear signage placed wherever large bales are stacked can help prevent tragedy when storing and transporting hay. At the 2010 National Fodder Conference, Australian Fodder Industry Association member Suzanne Woods from Calingiri, Western Australia, presented her safety sign concept to create awareness of the dangers of falling hay bales from stacks and trucks (see Figure 1).
The seriousness of this situation was brought home to the Woods family when her father was killed in an accident involving falling bales on their farm in October in 2009.
"The signs are designed to be used in a variety of situations and can be customised to suit different locations," she said. "Whether it is in the form of a portable sign while a truck is being loaded or unloaded, or adhesive signs on hayshed walls and columns, the simple graphic image gives a clear and immediate message."
The sign is available for farmers to use on their property and can be downloaded from the AFIA website http://www.afia.org.au.
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