Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland farmers warned of 'extreme danger' of slurry mixing after four narrow escapes

Farmers have been warned to exercise caution when working with slurry.
Farmers have been warned to exercise caution when working with slurry.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Farmers have been warned to be careful of the extreme dangers of slurry mixing after four "narrow escapes" at farms in Northern Ireland over the past two weeks.

The BBC has reported that in each instance emergency services had to be called after someone was overcome by fumes.

Last week a farmer in his 70s was rescued by another man who found him collapsed in a shed on his Lisnaskea property.

Both men were treated at the scene by paramedics.

Two cows in the shed at the time were overcome by the fumes and died.

Following the incident the fire service urged farmers to take the necessary precautions during slurry mixing.

Fire Service Group commander Fergal Leonard said that the incident posed a risk to everyone involved.

"We got the call that a man had collapsed at the scene due to slurry fumes. Immediately we take into consideration the risk to other people and to the firefighters as well," he said.

"Thankfully, the man was rescued by another man working on the farm.

"But both men were in extreme danger because there was agitation of the slurry going on and it gives off very high levels of hydrogen sulphide. And these levels could cause death."

Patsy McGlone
Patsy McGlone

The BBC has reported that a number of animals have been killed in slurry related incidents in recent weeks.

Of seven farming related deaths in Northern Ireland last year, none were linked to slurry incidents.

Farm safety inspector Malcolm Downey said that having other people present was the only thing that prevented the recent slurry incidents turning into tragedies.

"In all those cases thankfully, there was someone else present outside to raise the alarm and rescue the person and take the appropriate steps and contact the emergency services," he said.

"If it wasn't for those people, we could have been looking at a number of tragedies".

SDLP farming spokesperson Patsy McGlone said that even experienced farm workers needed to exercise caution when working with slurry.

“Everyone working on a farm knows how dangerous slurry can be. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by fumes, putting yourself and others in danger," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

"No matter how many years you’ve been mixing, it only takes one incident to become a tragedy.

“We’ve had a number of lucky escapes over the last few weeks thanks to the quick thinking and bravery of farming teams. The last thing we need is another tragedy in our rural communities. I would appeal again to people to exercise caution.”

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