The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Fire Service have issued a fresh warning to farmers in the area about the dangers of slurry pits on their property, and the risk that they pose to themselves, their workers and their livestock.
The warning comes as a result of the HSENI and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) having been classed to rescue four animals that had fallen into uncovered slurry pits so far this year. This loss of livestock may be financially damaging to farmers, but these cases pose as an example of the danger of death present for the farmers themselves, their families and farm employees.
Slurry pit related accidents is one of the four top causes of death and injury in Northern Irish farms. Farmers and farm employees are at risk of being overcome by the toxic gas released from the slurry during mixing, and falling into the pit or openings in the tanks.
NIFRS’ Group Commander-Fergal Leonard-issued this statement on the dangers of slurry pits:
“For Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, public safety is our priority and the best course of action is through prevention. At this time of year, slurry is being removed from the pits and used as fertiliser on the fields. This can be hazardous if the slurry pit is not properly ventilated during mixing operations and storage lids are not replaced immediately after filling a tanker. We would appeal for farmers to be vigilant in ensuring the access hatches into slurry pits are secure and well maintained”.
The leader of the Farm Safety Team at the HSENI-Malcom Downey-echoed his sentiments: “Before mixing slurry, always stop and think about the job ahead and make preparations to complete the entire task safely. You must cover all the openings and keep children and animals well away during the mixing process.”
He further stated: “Stay out for 30 minutes after starting mixing or after moving or re-directing the pump and try to mix on a windy day. Do not take any chances when mixing slurry, you are risking your own life and the lives of others as well as putting your livestock in danger.”