NI Farmers Urged To Be Cautious As Slurry Spreading Starts

Farmers in Northern Ireland have been reminded to remain cautious as the open period for spreading slurry commences.

The work of the Health Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) and Farm Safety Partnership has improved awareness of farm safety.

Slurry season does, however, remain an ongoing concern for every farming family in the region.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said farmers must ‘stop and think’ before they conduct slurry work on the farm and make their own safety a priority.

Deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: “Working with slurry is one of the most dangerous jobs for a farmer as slurry gas contains poisonous hydrogen sulphide.

“The gas releases very quickly and in large volumes as soon as mixing begins so it is vital that farmers take time to plan ahead, consider their surroundings and the weather before they begin any slurry work, putting their own safety first.

“Too many farmers have experienced ‘near misses’ and we are encouraging them to change the way they think about these close calls which are only a moment away from a fatal accident happening.”

The Farm Safety Partnership has developed the ‘Stop and Think Safe’ campaign to tackle high levels of serious accidents and deaths on local farms.

“We urge all farmers to make themselves aware of the slurry mixing code which stresses that the first thirty minutes are the most dangerous,” said Mr Chestnutt.

“When farmers start mixing slurry and every time they move the pump or change the direction of mixing, they should exit the shed and stay out for at least thirty minutes.

“The shed should be completely vacant, and all livestock removed. Farmers should mix on a windy day if possible and we urge members to inform a family member when they are working with slurry and ensure help is close at hand if needed,” he added.

The UFU is also reminding farmers that new slurry rules have been introduced for the month of February.

The latest regulations have increased the buffer zones and farmers must now be 15m away from waterways and 30m from lakes.

The amount of slurry that can be spread at any one time has also been reduced to 30m3/ha (2700 gallons/acre).

For more information about working safely with slurry or general farming health and safety issues contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit the HSENI website.