Follow these tips for manure handling safety including air quality, ventilation, warning tags, confined space protocol and fire hazards.
1. Monitor Air Quality
While pumping and agitating manure, air quality should be monitored. Consider purchasing a hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas monitor for anyone who will be near the area where manure is being pumped. In addition, stay alert for signs of gas exposure including, but not limited to, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, dizziness and nausea.
Manure handlers should be prepared to call 911 or other resources in their Emergency Action Plan if a toxic gas emergency arises.
2. Properly Ventilate Barns and Tag Doors
Before pumping manure, fully open all ventilation curtains and run ventilation fans at maximum speed. Continue maximum ventilation for at least 30 minutes after pumping is completed.
Ensure all people are out of the barn and tag all doors noting the barn is unsafe for entry during agitation and pumping. No one should enter a building where manure is being pumped and agitated.
3. Follow Confined Space Entry Protocol
According to OSHA, many manure handling and storage facilities are considered a confined space. Never enter a manure storage facility unless someone is standing by and maintaining constant contact with the person in the confined space. Gas levels should be measured prior to entry and monitored continuously when in the confined space. Always wear a properly fitted harness that is attached to a rescue tripod.
4. Reduce the Risk Of Potential Fire
Flash fires can happen when agitating and pumping manure. Reduce the risk by not allowing smoking or open flames near the area where manure is being handled. In addition, turn off electrical power to any non-ventilation equipment and extinguish any pilot lights or other ignition sources in the building.
5. Avoid the Temptation to Rescue
If someone is overcome by gas exposure, do not enter the area to rescue them. Follow the farm’s emergency action plan and call 911 immediately for rescue assistance.
Watch: Manure Know-How — Management and Handling of Manure Safely
Additional Manure Safety Resources
Producers are encouraged to talk with their state’s extension program and other experts with specific questions or concerns regarding manure management safety for their farm.
- Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits* | Center for Disease Control
- Agricultural Operations Hazards and Controls* | OSHA
- Putting Manure Handling Safety into Practice* | South Dakota State University Extension
- Manure Storage and Handling Safety Tips* | South Dakota State University Extension
- Protocols and Preparation for Manure Agitation and Pumping* | University of Minnesota Extension
- Farm Safety Check: Manure Gas* | UMASH
1. CDC. (2014, June ). CDC . Retrieved from Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/90-103/default.html