Hay baler accidents occur every year. It is one of the most dangerous types of farming equipment. A hay baler is a tractor accessory that ties and bundles hay into bales. Every year, hundreds of farm suffer amputations, loss of skin and tissue and other bodily mutilation from being pulled into hay balers. Other deaths and injuries result from being crushed by hay bales, which can weigh up to 2,000 lbs., the same as a small car.
Many of these accidents can be attributed to unsafe equipment designs. Such designs are fundamentally flawed and include unguarded:
- belts and rollers.
- attachment devices.
- compression rollers.
Hay Baler Case Studies
As the following documented cases show, typical injuries that occur while operating hay balers involve having limbs pulled into the machine, being severely burned if it catches fire, or being scalped if hair gets caught. Infection of wounds created by hay balers is also common.
- Four Iowa tractor operators were fatally crushed in a three-year period when a hay bale rolled down raised, front-end loader arms.
- A 47-year-old woman was baling hay on a windy day. She stopped and dismounted the tractor but left the tractor throttle on idle and did not disengage the power take-off (PTO) shaft that transmitted power to the baler. She then walked to the rear of the baler, past a secondary driveline shaft that powered a bale thrower attached to the rear of the baler. This secondary driveline, which was about four feet off the ground, was shielded by an inverted U-shaped guard (a tunnel guard) that left the bottom of the driveline unguarded. While at the rear of the baler, the operator’s hair (which she reported was tied back in a bandanna and tucked inside her shirt), became entangled in this driveline. The rotating force of the driveline shaft tore off her entire scalp, from the back of the neck to the facial brow line. Her injuries required extensive skin grafting and left her permanently disfigured.
In 2007, the Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care reported a study of 21 patients treated after a hay baler injury. The study concluded that, on average, patients required three operations and 11.5 days of hospitalization. The overall infection rate among these patients was 33%, and only 11 of the 21 patients enjoyed “good” recovery.
Hay Baler Accidents
Many hay baler accidents could be prevented if balers were equipped with adequate safety equipment if the appropriate precautions and warnings were posted, and if operators were given proper instruction regarding the use of the machines. Unfortunately, however, manufacturers continue to design defective machinery.
The National Safety Council publishes information about how to reduce the possibility of hay baler accidents. But remember, injuries sustained as a result of working with farm equipment are rarely attributable to the farm who use them.
Compensation is Available
If you are an injured farm worker, you are not at fault!
If one of your family members has been injured or died working on a farm, or if you have lost wages due to injury, you may be entitled to compensation. No matter what state you live in, what your work status is, or what your nationality is, help is available.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact us.