Manure is a valuable nutrient source for crops and an important component for farming sustainability. However, manure can be dangerous to work with and precautions must be taken to make sure you and everyone on your farm stays safe.
“Pits need to be checked every time they enter the barn for foaming,” according to Marguerite Tan, Director of Environmental Programs with the National Pork Board. “If you detect foam, exit the barn extinguished potential ignition sources and treat that pit with anti-foaming agents. The next thing is monitor air quality. It’s fast and easy to do and has the potential to save a life.”
Tan recommends ensuring people are out of the building when emptying a pit and maximizing ventilation during and 30 minutes after pumping and agitation. Additionally, entry protocols must be in place for confined spaces.
“Sometimes we’re not always aware that we are in a confined space,” says Tan. “In an ideal world, all of our confined spaces would be labeled. Unfortunately, they’re not always labeled like they should be. So, we just need to keep an extra kind of eye out for safety, and before we do anything, ask ourselves is this a confined space, and does it need confined space entry protocol.”
Producers and manure handling contractors should assume their pit contains these four hazardous gases: hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide. In high concentrations, each of these gases may be harmful and even cause death. Tan recommends buying a hydrogen sulfide gas monitor for anyone who will be near the area where manure is being pumped.
“I can’t stress that enough that air quality monitoring is the number one thing that we can do to help keep us safe,” says Tan. “It’s very easy to do. It doesn’t take, you know, but 30 seconds if that to be able to monitor that air quality. So, go in there with an air quality monitor, they make air quality monitors that just, you know that you can wear them on your person, you can put them on your belt. Go in there, make sure you’re monitoring that air quality.”
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s report on safety tips for your farm when handling hog manure.
For more safety tips when handling manure, visit porkcheckoff.org.