Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Call for farmers working with slurry to get oxygen masks

Nevin Spence, father Noel and brother Graham
Nevin Spence
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. A young Ulster fan pictured at the tributes to Nevin Spence and his family at the side of the pitch in Ravenhill.

Farmers have backed calls to investigate whether people working with slurry could be provided with breathing apparatus.

The UUP has called for the measure in the wake of the deaths of three members of the Spence family at their farm this month.

UUP agriculture spokeswoman Jo-Anne Dobson pointed out how a number of farmers have died due to gas emissions from slurry.

“The recent tragedy of the Spence family, which is still very much on our minds, has brought the extreme seriousness of the situation home to most people in the community, especially farmers,” she said.

“There have been so many deaths due to the slurry gas it is an absolute necessity that a system is put in place to protect farmers. A breathing support mask with a small oxygen bottle would give significant protection, would be neat and lightweight, and hopefully cost-efficient.”

The Health and Safety Execu

tive says filter-type masks are not suitable for protecting farmers from slurry gas and only apparatus with its own air supply is recommended.

The Ulster Farmers Union backed the call. President Harry Sinclair said: “Since the Spence family tragedy we have been contacted by many with suggestions such as the use of breathing apparatus and gas monitors.

“In the meantime, we have been issuing as much guidance as possible to farmers on how to work safely with slurry.”


Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence (22) was killed along with his father Noel (52) and brother Graham (30) in a slurry tank accident on their family farm near Hillsborough on September 15. The three died from the effects of exposure to slurry gases after entering an underground tank.

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