Northern Ireland

Farmers warned of 'extreme dangers' in slurry-mixing


Farmers have been warned to be very careful when mixing slurry after four "narrow escapes" at farms across Northern Ireland in the last fortnight.

In each case, the emergency services were called after someone was overcome by fumes.

Last week, a farmer from Fermanagh collapsed and lost consciousness. He was saved by another farm worker who saw what happened.

Firefighters said the men were "in extreme danger" and had a lucky escape.

"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," Fire Service Group commander Fergal Leonard 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."

Two cows died in the latest incident.

It's understood a number of animals were overcome by slurry fumes and died in the past two weeks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) is concerned about the spike in the number of recent incidents involving slurry.

Farm safety inspector Malcolm Downey said this was concerning.

"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".

Last year, seven people died in farm accidents in Northern Ireland, according to HSENI figures.

Three of the fatalities involved livestock, and two people died in machinery accidents.

One death was caused by a fall or falling objects and the final death was the result of an unspecified incident.

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