NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Farm worker dies of burn-related injuries while trapped in a burning hay baler - Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Department of Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 98OK025, 1998 Dec; :1-6
A 17-year-old male died when he became trapped in a hay baler that caught fire. The farm worker was working alone baling dried wheat straw for hay. Evidence suggests that the round hay baler became jammed (plugged), and the clutch temporarily shut down the power take-off device (PTO). The worker apparently climbed on top of the baler to clear the jammed wheat straw by using his feet. The jam cleared, and the clutch put the PTO back into motion. The baler rollers suddenly started moving and trapped the worker's leg inside the baler. The rollers and belts spinning around the hay started a fire. A neighbor passed the field, noticed the fire, and notified the worker's father of the fire. The worker's father notified the fire department and went to the field. The father uncoupled the baler and moved the tractor away from the burning hay baler. The father then found his son (the worker) suspended in the baler. The worker died at the scene from smoke inhalation and burns. FACE investigators concluded that, to prevent similar occurrences, employers (including persons who are self-employed) should: 1. ensure that safe work practices are followed, including disengaging the PTO and shutting off the engine prior to working on agricultural machinery; 2. ensure that machinery is maintained and operated according to manufacturer's specifications, including adjusting the baler pick-up height for correct ground clearance and adjusting the ground speed with the crop conditions and windrow size; and 3. provide workers who work alone with a means of remote communication for use in cases of emergency.
Region-6; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agriculture; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Farmers; Tractors; Burns; Fire-hazards
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-98OK025; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-613938
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division