Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland are warning of the dangers of slurry pits.
Farmers are being urged to take care in the maintenance and storage of slurry on farms - particularly those with livestock near to slurry pits, who are being asked to check the safety of the pit.
There have already been four incidents across Northern Ireland this year, when animals have fallen into uncovered slurry pits or slurry pits with badly fitted or maintained mixing point covers. 2015 saw twenty incidents - with fifteen incidents the year before that.
The presence of toxic gases emitted from the slurry means that the consequences can be devastating, not only to livestock but also to farmers, farm workers and their families.
NIFRS Group Commander and Farm Safety Lead, Fergal Leonard, said: “Whilst it is encouraging to see a decrease of this type of incident across NI, farmers need to be vigilant to keep the farming community and livestock safe.
“Public safety is our priority and the best course of action is through prevention. We would appeal for farmers to be vigilant in ensuring the access hatches into slurry pits are secure and well maintained. At this time of year, slurry is being removed from the pits and used as fertiliser on the fields. This can be hazardous if the slurry pit is not properly ventilated during mixing operations and storage lids are not replaced immediately after filling a tanker.
“Animals can also come into difficulties when in the fields if potential hazards, such as broken fences, drains and ditches, aren’t properly maintained. Make sure to close farm gates after use and maintain fencing to keep animals safe and to reduce the risk of livestock getting into difficulty.”
For further info, visit www.hseni.gov.uk/farmsafe