Slury tank safety
TUV Leader Jim Allister has called for urgent action from DARD to address the dangers faced by farmers working with slurry and slurry tanks.
Mr Allister, who earlier this week in the agriculture debate in Stormont criticised DARD for not including noxious gas detectors and alarms on slurry tanks within the equipment fundable under Tranche 3 of the Farm Modernisation Scheme, has now received an answer from the minister claiming discussions are underway to possibly include such detectors in a future tranche of the Farm Modernisation Programme.
In a question to the agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill, Mr Allister asked whether she has any plans to bring forward a funded scheme for the installation of noxious gas detectors and alarms on slurry tanks.
In her response, Mrs O’Neill confirmed that the matter was under consideration by DARD.
“The possibility of including farm safety items in a future tranche of the Farm Modernisation Programme is under consideration by my department, in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union through the Farm Safety Partnership,” she said.
“Current HSENI advice is that noxious gas detectors/monitors can be a useful guide before entering a building after slurry mixing is complete to check the gas has had time to disperse. However, they can only be a backup to a safe system of work and not a substitute.
“At the start of mixing slurry gas concentration rises and readings above 500 parts per million are very common in livestock buildings during tank mixing.
Such levels will render most monitors ineffective. Therefore, HSENI recommends that at least 30 minutes, or longer, depending on the size of tank, is allowed before entering a building after mixing has started.”
Mrs O’Neill added that the Farm Safety Partnership encourages all farmers to develop and follow a safe system of work.
HSENI has published guidance on working safely with slurry and on slurry gas detection monitors. This is available on its website www.hseni.gov.uk
Commenting on the response Mr Allister added: “This undoubtedly is something that should have been addressed before now.
We had many slurry deaths before the Spence tragedy, yet it seems the department sat back and never considered a scheme to assist detector installations.
Now, they’re talking about it, but we need more than talk, we need action and we need it sooner, rather than later.”
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