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HSENI Issues Warning about the Dangers of Slurry Pits

Farmers have been issued with a fresh warning about the dangers of slurry pits by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Fire Service.

The warning about the dangers of slurry pits was released jointly by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) – who, to date this year, have been called upon to rescue four animals that have fallen into uncovered slurry pits.

Although any loss of livestock can be devastating to the farming community, the warning about the dangers of slurry pits focuses on the risk of injury and death to farmers, farm employees and their families.

Slurry is one of the four main causes of death and serious injuries on Northern Ireland farms due to farmers and farm employees being overcome by the gas released from slurry during mixing and falling through slurry pit openings into the tank.

Malcolm Downey, who leads the farm safety team at HSENI, said “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 continued: “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.”

Mr Downey´s warning about the dangers of slurry pits was echoed by Fergal Leonard – NIFRS´ Group Commander – who added: “For Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, public safety is our priority and the best course of action is through prevention”.

Mr Leonard warned: “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”.