Urgent - Farmers be aware! Recent near miss with slurry gas

Date published: 23 April 2024

HSENI was notified on Sunday 21 April 2024 of a near miss incident involving slurry gas.

Slurry Alert

The farmers concerned were extremely fortunate and thankfully came away from the incident with their lives, others may not be so lucky.

You must follow a safe system of work when working with slurry, especially during mixing operations.

The root causes of the incident were:

  1. The day was warm, dry and calm with little wind to disperse the slurry gas and
  2. The farmers left livestock in the shed

These are the two most common causes of slurry incidents.

If farmers follow the slurry code the risk should be negligible when mixing slurry.

Some farmers would argue that it is impossible to mix on a windy day and it is impossible to put livestock out when they have nowhere to put them.

This is not impossible.

No-one wants to have an incident on their farm. If you leave livestock in the shed during slurry mixing you are potentially putting yourself and others at very serious risk of exposure.

You need to look after yourself, your family, your farm and your livelihood.

If cattle succumb to slurry gases and start to go down, farmers will always go in to try to save their animals but if you remove them in the first place there should be no need to enter the shed.

Please note: In the vast majority of cases, losses of animals like this will not be covered by your insurance policy.

Think of the areas you could put cattle into in your yard, can you put up a number of gates in certain areas that you can open out to make temporary pens?

One farmer had extremely limited space in his yard and he put four gates up his lane and batched cattle in this way.

Think of areas other than fields as they may be too wet to use at certain times of the year.

You as the farm owner must ensure your own safety and that of your family and others.

This incident could very easily have been another tragic multiple death on our farms here, it is not acceptable and these incidents are preventable.

Please follow the Slurry Code:

  • if possible, mix on a windy day
  • keep children away from the area at all times when working with slurry
  • take all animals out of the building before starting to mix slurry
  • open all doors and windows
  • use outside mixing points first
  • if slats are removed, cover exposed areas of the tank beside the pump/mixer to stop anything falling in
  • start the pump/mixer and then stay out of the building for as long as possible - at least 30 minutes or longer depending on the size of the tank
  • if you have to go into the building, make sure that another adult who knows what you are doing stays outside and can get help if needed
  • if you have to re-enter to move the pump, or change the direction of the pump, leave the building as soon as this is done - do not go back in for as long as possible - at least another 30 minutes or longer depending on the size of the tank

For full guidance on safe slurry mixing please see the follwing link:

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