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The farming community faced tragedy just before Christmas, as two men were killed in a slurry pit in East Yorkshire.

Fumes at the Sunk Island slurry pit were responsible for the deaths of Alexander Forman and Richard Pooley. The tragic accident follows an incident that occurred in Northern Ireland in 2012, when three members of the Spence family were overcome by slurry gases. Tom Price, an National Farmers’ Union (NFU) adviser for transport and farm safety issued a warning to all farm workers to be aware of dangers in the workplace.

According to Price, the NFU identified slurry gases and slurry pits as one of the main risks facing farmers. The Farm Safety Partnership, which includes the NFU, is working hard to raise awareness of the dangers and to encourage farmers to abide by the health and safety regulations and best practices while working in proximity to slurry pits, to minimise the likelihood of accidents.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland has stated that slurry gas is a combination of hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane, among other gases. Hydrogen sulphide is poisonous to animals and people, making it difficult to breathe and often resulting in death after just a few breaths. Price stated that although most people take holidays at Christmas and the New Year, farmers usually continue to work and accidents can occur.

When working around hazardous chemicals, including toxic fumes, the use of PPE is crucial, along with other specialist workwear.

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