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Slurry warning ahead of spreading season

Farmers are being urged to take extra care with working with slurry when the closed period for spreading ends next week

FARMERS are being urged to take extra care working with slurry when the closed period for spreading ends next week.

The closed period for spreading slurry coming to an end at midnight on January 31 and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has once again warned of the dangers, particularly in relation to mixing.

Mixing slurry can be a particularly dangerous job as slurry gas is released very quickly and in large quantities as soon as the process starts. Slurry gas is a mixture of gases, including the extremely poisonous, hydrogen sulphide. Even a low concentration of hydrogen sulphide can knock out your sense of smell so you won't even know it's there. At higher concentrations you will rapidly find it harder to breathe and become confused - and at certain concentrations, just one breath can kill.

The first 30 minutes are the most dangerous, so it is important for farmers to leave the shed as soon as mixing starts - and to stay out for at least 30 minutes.

Reminding farmers of the dangers of mixing slurry, Malcolm Downey, principal inspector of HSENI's farm safety team, said:

“Before starting any job on the farm, including slurry mixing, take time to stop, think and safely plan the work ahead. Cover openings and keep children and animals far away during the slurry mixing process.Stay out of the building for at least 30 minutes after the mixing starts and every time you move the pump or change the direction of mixing."

“Do not take any chances when mixing slurry. As the closed period comes to an end I urge farmers to reflect on the safe slurry mixing code, remembering that just one breath can kill," he added.

For more information about working safely with slurry or general farming health and safety issues please contact the HSENI helpline on: 0800 0320 121 or visit the farm safety topic page on the HSENI website: www.hseni.gov.uk

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