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Forage Crop Harvesting Safety


  • Accidents in the harvesting of forage crops are not uncommon and often very serious.
  • The variety of machinery used (e.g., choppers, balers, windrowers) to harvest hay and silage crops can be hazardous.
  • In addition, equipment malfunction or break down in the field leads to reduced productivity and greater likelihood of someone incurring an injury.
  • Forage harvesting also often requires extra help, which may not be properly trained and supervised.


  • With a big round baler,
    1. make certain everyone is clear before opening the rear gates;
    2. drop the bales on relatively level surfaces where they cannot roll;
    3. use a rear-mounted bale handler;
    4. and equip a front-end loader with grapple hooks, keeping the load low and speed slow to avoid a tip-over.
  • With a forage chopper,
    1. shut off the engine and make sure the cutter head has stopped rotating before opening the access plate or door;
    2. and work with extra care and heed safety precautions in your operator's manual when sharpening the knives or making any adjustments.
  • Limit loads that workers must lift to reduce the risk of back injury.
  • Be sure any needed extra help are both adequately trained for their tasks and supervised.
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitted clothing, safety shoes and head cover (bump cap) to avoid overexposure to the sun.
  • Consider such personal protective equipment as a filter respirator, acoustic ear muffs or plugs, and protective goggles for added protection in dusty, noisy conditions.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (but not alcohol) as you work.
  • Keep children away from forage harvesting operation.

(Also see "Safe Use of Forage Harvesting Machinery" under Field Machinery/ Implements Safety.)

Last updated: 18-May-2006 11:08 AM