The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) has recently interviewed 100 farmers on entering buildings where slurry is being mixed. The survey revealed that fewer than one in five of those farmers interviewed waited the recommended 30 minutes before re-entering such buildings.

14 of those farmers said they only waited five minutes or less before re-entering the buildings.

What is alarming is the fact that all of the farmers surveyed knew about the risks associated with the deadly hydrogen sulphide gas that is released by slurry, and still did not follow the recommended times for re-entry into a building where the slurry is being mixed. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that 20 of the farmers said that they, or a family member, had been affected at least once by the gas.

The HSE NI's Chief Executive, Keith Morrison, said: “It is demoralising that despite the high awareness of the dangers from slurry gas, many farmers are still willing to risk their lives when mixing slurry. Farmers should follow all of the recommended safety advice and, at the very least, they need to stay out of the mixing building for at least half an hour. Just one breath of slurry gas can cause serious injury or even death.”

Coinciding with this research, the HSE NI has recently published a new leaflet on Mixing slurry safely.