Warning of deadly slurry dangers

Dessie Blackadder


Dessie Blackadder

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is reminding farmers to follow the slurry mixing code to stay safe, as the closed period for slurry spreading is due to commence at midnight on Friday 15 October 2021.

Slurry gas is a mixture of gases, including the extremely poisonous gas, 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.

Mixing slurry can be a dangerous job as the gas is released very quickly, and in large quantities, as soon as the mixing starts.

The first 30 minutes are the most dangerous, so it is important to remove all stock from the shed before mixing starts and for farmers to leave the building as soon as the mixing starts.

It is also vitally important to stay out of the shed for at least 30 minutes after the mixing starts.

Brian Pryce, part of the Agri-Food team at HSENI, said: “When mixing slurry, please stop and take time to think of the risks involved. Do not take any chances when mixing slurry, your life may depend on it. Stop and think about the entire job ahead and ensure you follow the slurry mixing code.

“Always keep children and animals away at all times during the mixing process. Farmers must stay out for 30 minutes after starting mixing or after moving or re-directing the pump.”

The slurry mixing code:

keep children away from the area at all times when working with slurry

if possible, mix on a windy day

open all doors

take all animals out of the building before starting to mix slurry

use outside mixing points first

if slats are removed, cover exposed areas of the tank beside the pump/mixer to stop anything falling in

start the pump/mixer – then get out and stay out of the building for as long as possible - at least 30 minutes

if you have to go into the building, make sure that another adult who knows what you are doing stays outside and can get help if needed

if you have to re-enter to move the pump or change the direction of the pump, leave the building as soon as this is done – do not go back in for as long as possible – at least another 30 minutes


rely on filter type facemasks

use gas monitors as a substitute for working safely

have naked flames near slurry, as slurry gas mixture is flammable

stand close to the exhaust of a vacuum tanker when it is being filled

For more information about working safely with slurry contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit our farm safety topic page: www.hseni.gov.uk/farmsafety

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