Slurry presents two particular safety and health problems – drowning and gas poisoning. Drowning is by far the most common cause of death involving slurry. Children and the elderly are at particular risk. In the period 2000-2010, 30% of child fatal accidents on farms were caused by drowning in slurry or water. In the same period, 8% of deaths to elderly farmers were caused by drowning.
Why is Hydrogen Sulphide H2S dangerous?
Smell is no indicator of the absence of gas, as many gases are odourless. Hydrogen sulphide has a ‘rotten egg‘ smell at low levels, but cannot be smelt at higher levels. High levels can be released when slurry is agitated. One breath or lung-full at this level causes instant death.
- Open slurry tanks should be protected by an unclimbable fence or wall at least 1.8 metres high, with locked gates
- When the tank has to be emptied, consider having an adequately constructed access platform with safety rails
- Covered or slatted tanks require access manholes that children cannot open easily. Fit a safety grid below the manhole to give secondary protection. All slurry tanks should be adequately fenced
- Evacuate all livestock and make sure no person or animal is in or near the building
- Do not allow slurry to rise within 300mm of the slats or tank covers
- Avoid smoking and naked flames as the gas mixture can be highly flammable
- Never enter a tank for any reason – gases can build up and remain in partially emptied tanks above the slurry
- Never enter the slurry tank or any confined space unless you are wearing suitable breathing apparatus and/ or a harness attached to a lifeline controlled by at least two other adults positioned outside of the area
- Put up warning signs to warn of the dangers when working with slurry
- Scrape holes on outdoor lagoons should be adequately protected
- Cover all slurry tank manhole openings
- Beware of the risk of back injury if you need to lift slats in the shed
- Agricultural contractors must be aware of the dangers of working with slurry and should ensure that they work safely at all
- Wear a Gas Detector BW Clip
For more information go to the HSA website
*Information based on information on the HSA Website