Manure Pits: Why Not to Indulge


Many farm workers have died after entering manure pits. What you need to know:

These two incidents resulted in seven fatalities and suggest that many farm workers are unaware of the hazards of entering manure pits. These pits are designed as confined spaces with limited means of entry and unfavorable ventilation. The gases generated by the bacterial decay of the manure may accumulate sufficiently to create deadly oxygen-deficient (less that 19.5% oxygen), toxic, and/or explosive atmospheres [NIOSH 1987].

In these two incidents and in those reported earlier, the fatalities often involved more than one victim. Two or more workers often died when rescue was attempted without appropriate safety equipment and procedures. Such a chain of events is consistent with the findings of other FACE investigations, which show that 39% of the victims in confined-space incidents were coworkers or others who attempted to rescue the initial victim.

The full-text of this NIOSH Alert is available here.


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