The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) along with the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland are warning of the dangers of slurry pits to the local farming community and animals.
Farmers are being urged to take care in the maintenance and storage of slurry on farms. In particular, those with livestock near to slurry pits are being asked to check the safety of the pit.
To date this year, there have been four incidents across Northern Ireland where animals have fallen into uncovered slurry pits or slurry pits with badly fitted or maintained mixing point covers.
Last year saw 20 incidents and in 2014 there were 15 incidents.
The presence of toxic gases emitted from the slurry means that the consequences can be devastating to not only livestock but also pose a significant risk to farmers, farm workers and their families.
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) Group Commander and Farm Safety Lead Fergal Leonard said: “Firefighters have attended four incidents of animals falling into slurry pits this year.
“Whilst it is encouraging to see a decrease of this type of incident across Northern Ireland, farmers need to be vigilant to keep the farming community safe and livestock safe.
“For Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, public safety is our priority and the best course of action is through prevention. We would appeal for farmers to be vigilant in ensuring the access hatches into slurry pits are secure and well maintained.”
Malcolm Downey, who heads up farm safety team at HSENI said: “Before mixing slurry, always stop and think about the job ahead and make preparations to complete the entire task safely. You must cover all the openings and keep children and animals well away during the mixing process.
“Cover all openings to prevent falls into the slurry tank. Stay out for 30 minutes after starting mixing or after moving or re-directing the pump and try to mix on a windy day.”