A FARM worker is in a critical condition after being crushed by a bale of hay which fell off a tractor.

The 21-year-old worker had been driving a JCB forklift tractor on Shuttleworth House farm, off St John's Road, in Padiham, when he got off and the bale of hay fell onto him, crushing his lower body.

The worker was flown to the Royal Preston Hospital by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who were called because the North West Air Ambulance had been deployed on another job.

The worker, who was initially unconscious, was stabilised by five paramedics, with help from Nelson and Padiham firefighters, at the scene on Monday, at 5.30pm.

The worker had been driving the tractor when it developed a problem. He got out to check it and the bale of hay fell on him, causing crushing injuries, said a spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive.

Police, and Health and Safety Executive officials have started an investigation into the incident.

Watch manager Gary Monk said: "The worker was lying on the concrete floor near to the bale of hay when we arrived.

"He was unconscious when we got there, but regained consciousness once the paramedics had stabilised him.

"He had suffered serious leg injuries and was airlifted by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the Royal Preston Hospital.

"The air ambulance was very important because of the location, and nature of the injury."

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive, which is legally obliged to investigate accidents in the workplace, said: "An investigation has been launched into the incident by the HSE and the police.

"The 21-year-old was driving a JCB tractor and he got off to check the tractor when a problem developed with the fork.

"At that stage, we have been told, a bale of hay has fallen and crushed him."