An 80-year-old full-time farmer died after being caught under a baler. The victim worked closely with his son on the 300-acre farm. He was working alone, driving a tractor with a baler attached, in an 8-acre field during a midafternoon in May. Having completed a portion of the field in the morning, the victim returned to the field after lunch to complete the task. Rain was forecast and the remainder of the field would take 4-5 hours to complete. The victim's son went to a nearby town to pick up parts for the round baler while the victim used a square baler to bale the previously cut alfalfa. About 5:00 pm the victim dismounted the tractor to clear a bale from underneath the baler; he had inadvertently run over it. He depressed the clutch, took the tractor out of gear, set the parking brake, left the engine running, and dismounted the tractor. He walked to the side of the baler, bent over and reached with his left hand under the baler in front of the baler wheel. The tractor and baler were parked on a gradual downward slope. Because the PTO was still running, the baler was jerking forward as the flywheel continued to rotate. The pulsating movement of the baler caused the tractor to inch forward as the victim was reaching underneath. The victim's right arm, being used to support his weight as he reached with his left, was run over by the baler wheel, trapping him. His clothing then became entangled in a rotating pulley adjacent to the baler wheel. The victim was strangled by his shirt as it wound up tight. He was discovered by his son a few hours later. Emergency medical responders came to the scene, the coroner was called, and the victim was pronounced dead at 7:10 pm. In order to prevent similar occurrences, FACE investigators recommend that:
- machinery should be turned off by disengaging the PTO before approaching the equipment;
- machines should be examined to ensure that all moving components are properly guarded; if better shielding is needed an authorized equipment dealer should be contacted to determine if safety modifications have been engineered or made available;
- brakes should be set in unison to minimize the possibility of rolling;
- operators should not wear loose fitting clothing when operating farm machinery.
- whenever possible, operators should not work alone.
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, "Tractor/Baler Operator Killed in Entanglement" (1997). Fatality Case Reports--Tractors/Logging. 22.