A wet winter along with rummaging rodents is turning stacks and individual bales into a serious hazard where mice have dug into and eaten the stacks, undermining their stability and solidity.

“If you see evidence of mice, particularly displaced hay that they’ve dug out of a stack, take great care when working on or near it,” the director of the Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Division, Ross Pilkington, said.

“Stacks of bales are solid when they’re made, but infestation with mice means they can become unstable and fall.

“Removing one bale at a time and being aware of the potential for upper layers to shift or give way in the centre will help ensure no one is hurt.”

Damaged stacks are at risk of collapse in high winds, as bales are retrieved from stacks by tractors, forklifts and tele-handlers, and during loading and unloading of trucks.

When securing loads farmers and transport drivers should avoid climbing onto the bales as this increases the risk of them collapsing, falling or causing engulfment.

Hay stacks should be approached with extreme caution and children and other people kept clear of them. Think about the task before proceeding to move hay stacks, approach stacks with caution and only use the right machinery for the job.”

For more information read ‘Falling hay bales’ at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au or call WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.