FARMERS are being urged to be ‘careful’ as two separate incidents involving slurry occurred within the past week.
Last Tuesday, a Fermanagh farmer from Letterbreen had a lucky escape when he was overcome by fumes while mixing slurry at his farm. Five of the farmer’s cows were lost in the incident, while the 30 year old man was taken to hospital and treated for breathing difficulties before being released.
Three days later, Alastair Sloss, a Tyrone farmer in his 50s died when he fell into a slurry tank at his farm near Coagh, between 5pm and 6pm on Friday evening. The incident occurred just hours before the closing of the time limit for slurry spreading.
Former Councillor, Harold Andrews, knows all to well the consequences of slurry gas as he suffered a near miss as he mixed slurry at his farm almost five years ago.
“I had the experience a number of years ago. I think what made it so dangerous was that the tank was half full, rather than being completely full. My advice would be to any farmer who is mixing slurry is once you start up the pump, get out of the area and ensure the animals are away from the area too. I was not very conscious of just how dangerous it is until I had a near miss myself, but now I know how important it is to be careful,” he added.
Slurry is extremely dangerous for all farmers as the slurry gas contains highly poisonous gases which can cause farmer’s sense of smell to weaken, struggle to breathe and become confused.
“These types of incidents bring back memories of what happened to myself. I was just fortunate that I got out through the door before I collapsed. Once I got some fresh air, I did come round again after 15 or 20 seconds, but if I had not have got out I would have been a victim of the fumes.
“I have been working with slurry for 20 or 30 years and unfortunately it is from experience that you learn, but some people have paid the supreme sacrifice by not getting out.
“Farmers always think that it will never happen to them, but it is just as likely to happen to you, as it is to happen to anyone else,” added Mr Andrews.