Spring is a busy time of year for agriculture operations. One of the first things we do is prepare our fields for the new growing season. In many cases this involves pumping manure to evacuate the pits and fertilize the soil. It’s a process many of us have performed multiple times, so it’s easy to understand how one could become complacent while working around these dangerous spaces. Let’s take a moment to examine some of the common hazards.
Overconfidence can be your downfall
Every time you enter a manure pit, you should treat it as a potentially lethal space. Just because you may have entered a pit in the past without incident doesn’t mean that you can do so again now. There’s no way to know how conditions might have changed or what gasses have built up since last time. As such you need to be prepared for anything and never assume that conditions inside the pit are the same as last time. The best practice is to NEVER enter a manure pit, but if you must, be sure to test the environment prior to entry, wear the appropriate PPE and have two monitors posted to ensure that an evacuation can be performed if needed. Use a Confined Space Permit to ensure that all safety measures have been performed.
Secure the environment
One of the easiest provisions you can make to prevent manure pit accidents is to erect a safety wall or fence around the pit. A barrier like this will help keep children from wandering too near and slipping into the pit or lagoon. Signs should also be placed at regular intervals around the pit with warnings about the hazards of the pit.
Don’t underestimate the value of rest
Because pumping out a manure pit is often a 24/7 operation until the job is complete, fatigue can be a contributing factor to accidents. Exhaustion can lead to complacency and inattention which, in turn, can lead to injury – or worse. Employees working around manure pits should be well-rested and trade off shifts to reduce the risk of fatigue.
You can never be too cautious while working around manure pits. Training, attention, and preparation all combine to make dangerous operations a little bit safer.