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Manure Pit Safety- Just Leave That Hat You Dropped

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Photo courtesy Michigan Farm Bureau

Manure Pit Safety- Just Leave That Hat You Dropped

This week is Farm Safety and Health Week. Purdue Ag and Biological Engineering Professor and field safety specialist Bill Field recently spoke at the North American Manure Expo at Fair Oaks about safety measures for your manure pit. Field says he has about 360 documented cases where people have been injured or killed handling, transporting, and storing manure, most of which revolve around handling equipment.

“For example, the most recent case, a 19-year-old was killed operating a skid-steer loader pushing manure into a lagoon, and he went right into the lagoon, and drown in the lagoon. So, we often don’t give thought to that. We think mostly manure pit cases involve toxic gases- hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon dioxide, but it’s often those other things that we overlook such as transporting manure on a highway or the power takeoff shaft that runs a manure pump, or agitator. These are things that are causing actually more injuries and fatalities than actual exposure to toxic gases.”

One question that Field gets frequently: is it safe to go into the manure pit?

“There’s never a safe time to go into a pit. And if you’re going into a pit, you better go into it looking for something that’s really of value, because the cases I’ve had, people have gone into pits looking for their hat that’s gone in there, they’ve gone in after a pig, they’ve gone in after tools, a shovel, they’ve gone in after a seed corn jacket. Those are not good things to die for, but all of those cases ended up in a fatality where people were trying to retrieve something.”

Webinars on farm safety and other resources for farmer health can be found at the AgriSafe Network site.