Skip directly to local search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home
 
NIOSH Update:

Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
July 3, 2007

The tragic deaths of four members of a Virginia farm family and a farm employee on July 2, 2007, highlight the importance of vigilance when entering manure pits or tanks. Accumulations of methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and ammonia can pose a life-threatening risk of suffocation and other dangers.  The immediacy and magnitude of the hazard may not be readily apparent.

To prevent death or serious injury, NIOSH recommends:

  • never enter a manure pit unless absolutely necessary, and only when proper safeguards have been taken
  • the atmosphere within the pit should be tested before entry,
  • if the atmosphere is toxic or oxygen-deficient, do not enter without proper respiratory protection
  • a standby person should be in constant contact and ready to lift the worker to safety with mechanical lifting equipment (winch, hoist, or pulley), and
  • anyone entering a manure pit should wear a safety belt or harness with a lifeline tied to the mechanical lifting device
  • never enter a manure pit to attempt a rescue without proper respiratory protection

More details on NIOSH findings and recommendations for working safely in manure pits can be found in these documents:

NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/90-103.html

NIOSH Update: NIOSH Warns, Manure Pits Continue to Claim Lives http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/93-114.html

In partnership with the farming community, employers, extension services, equipment manufacturers, and other stakeholders, NIOSH conducts a strategic program of research and outreach to prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths in agricultural work.  More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/agriculture/ or by calling the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).

 

 
Contact Us:
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO