Bales and bale handling

This webpage gives advice on how to store and handle bales safely.

The hazards commonly associated with bale handling and known to have caused serious injuries include:

Cranes and teagle hoists are sometimes used for lifting bales, particularly in older-type mill buildings.  Possible safety problems include:

Bale storage

At most sites, bales are held in a warehouse or similar storage area, waiting for process or despatch.  The main safety objective in the storage area is to maintain safe and stable stacks, so bales do not fall.

Instability can happen in two ways:

Avoiding instability is not straightforward because of variations in the shape, size, weight and density of bales.  These variations call for stack configurations and methods of stacking and de-stacking that differ considerably from one bale type to another.  The surface texture of the bale wrappings is also significant, eg plastic wrappings are prone to slippage and can quite easily lead to instability in a stack.

An essential safety measure is to place the warehousing and storage operations under the direct supervision of an individual who is responsible, experienced and competent.  This individual, carefully selected by management and capable of making an objective assessment of the safety and stability of the stacks, should have the authority and personality to exert strict control over all aspects of the work.

Safe working procedures for stacking and de-stacking should be drawn up and agreed with all appropriate personnel.  These procedures should consider:

Stock rotation is also necessary to optimise the stacking arrangements.

General pointers to safe storage

To minimise climbing on stacks, attach identification tickets to bales where they can be read easily by a person standing at floor level.

Bale handling

If possible, use mechanical equipment to handle bales, rather than manual handling.  This equipment will bring its own hazards and you need to make sure of the following:

Further guidance

The following pieces of guidance, produced for the agriculture and recovered paper industries, give a great deal of useful information relevant to the textile industry.

Updated 2022-01-05