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A report has revealed that many farmers are failing to take the full safety precautions when it comes to managing slurry.
The report came from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) after undertaking 100 interviews with farmers.
What is slurry? Slurry is a mix of manure and water and is used as fertiliser on farms.
The problem is that the slurry can produce a mixture of gases including carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulphide. This latter gas is the one you might associate with the smell of rotten eggs.
The big problem is that when the slurry is mixed it can release the hydrogen sulphide very quickly which can be lethal if great care isn’t taken. With this in mind it is recommended that farmers stay out of the building in which slurry is being mixed for at least 30 minutes from the start of the mixing.
But unfortunately, despite the Health and Safety risks, of those farmers that were interviewed, the survey found that only 18% waited the recommended time. Worse still was the fact that 14% said that they waited five minutes or less from the start of mixing.
The figure is all the more worrying given that none of the farmers were unaware of the risks and 20% said that either they or a member of their family had been affected by hydrogen sulphide.
Tragically, fatal accidents do still occur due to the terrible effects of slurry gases and so it’s absolutely essential that farmers and farm workers are not only aware of the risks but are positively encouraged to act upon them. It is with this in mind that the HSENI has produced a leaflet entitled ‘Mixing Slurry Safely’.
But there is also a wider point about health and safety more generally on farms, what with livestock, machinery, chemicals and day to day heavy work. It’s not about trying to put pointless red tape in the way of carrying out the wonderful vocation that is farming. It is to raise a flag and try and help people to avoid getting hurt or even killed in their day to day work activities.
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