Top 10 Safety Tips for Balers

OSHA requires " Employers provide a workplace free from serious hazards and comply with standards...". The standards generally applying to Balers within the US are those written by ANSI.    Some of the most common issue our service department finds with balers are:

        1.   Machine Guarding

OSHA states that "Employers and workers should make sure that the rotating parts and points of operation of machines are properly guarded prior to using them."  Top Baler items:

- Vertical Balers - Must have working gates that are manually closed (no self lowering). 

                        - Doors need to have side mount, slow release mechanisms in good repair. 

- Horizontal Balers  - Must have guards over top of ram and around tier components.

                                - Access doors must be bolted shut or have access interlocks.

                                - Feed chutes must be high enough that operators cannot reach shear knives.  

2.    Electrical

Ensure all electrical panels are free of dirt and debris and properly secured shut.  Any damaged conduit or wiring must be repaired.

3.   Hydraulics

Most balers operate under very high hydraulic pressure.  Ensure all leaks are repaired and any spilled oil cleaned up.  Periodically check all hoses for signs of mechanical abrasion or cuts.  Damaged lines from age or heat should be replaced.

         4.   Structural

Balers may operate in tough environments.  Steel does fatigue and fail.  Look carefully for signs of cracks in frames, welds, and cylinder mounts.  Many severe structural failures will show indications of stress, cracks, or breaks long before they rip apart.  Age, improper loading, pressure settings, lack of maintenance, worn liners, or dull shear blades can all contribute. 

         5.   Training

Operators must be trained on each machine by qualified personnel.  Documented training is recommended.  Always read operators manuals before putting any machine in service.

          6.   Lock Out / Tag Out

Make sure all operators are trained, understand, and use Lock Out and Tag Out procedures specifically for that machine.  Maintenance personnel must also be familiar with these procedures.  Documented training is recommended.

          7.   Young Operators

OSHA prohibits operators of baler or compactors who are under 18 years old.

          8.   Warnings

Make sure all required warning labels are in place and in good condition.  Many older machines, or those purchased “used”, will not have any.  Others may be painted over or removed.  Mandatory labels include warnings of pinch points, under age, high voltage, automatic operation, etc.  Use the manufacturer’s Owners Manual to help identify the location of these warning labels and maximum operating loads.

          9.   Bale Removal and Storage

Bales are large and heavy.  Operators need to be trained on equipment used in handling and storing bales.  Check your warehouse and ensure bales are safely stacked.  General rule: height should not exceed 3 times base dimension, although poor bale quality may make all stacking unsafe.

           10.   Please Be Safe

Walk around the machine and look for safety issues.  If it looks unsafe, it probably is.  It is far easier and cheaper to correct issues before someone gets hurt.  It is possible the method of use, not the machine, may need to be corrected.  Many older balers were not manufactured to today’s standards, and many of these manufacturers are no longer around.  There is no “Grandfather Clause” for safety.  Machines must be updated, and it is the responsibility of the owner.


For more detailed information, or an independent evaluation, contact the service department at Recycling Equipment Corporation at 267-218-7200.  You may also use the REC ONLINE FORM .


Have your baling/compacting equipment regularly inspected for potential failure to reduce workers’ exposure to operational hazards. 


For more information contact

OSHA site at 

ANSI site of