20/10/2005

HSENI issue slurry tanks warning

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has issued an alert concerning older block-built slurry tanks on farms.

The warning, which concerns those built in the 1960’s - 70’s, comes after the recent collapse of a slurry tank where a worker was rescued after being submerged in slurry.

The tank involved had been constructed using concrete blocks and was divided into two by a central wall to support the slats. An opening 600mm x 600mm (2ftx2ft) had been cut in the wall to allow the slurry levels to equalise on either side of the wall. Over time, a crust of slurry built up in and blocked the opening. When additional water was added, to assist mixing of the slurry, the liquid level rose higher on one side of the wall than the other and caused it to collapse. The slats, along with a worker who was standing there, fell into the tank.

Ken Logan, Principal Health and Safety Inspector and HSENI’s construction specialist said: “It is vital that this type of incident is not repeated. If this worker had been working alone he would have lost his life. The agricultural industry must learn lessons from this incident by addressing the following issues: - Older tanks with dividing walls (of block-wall construction) and limited openings are potential death traps during mixing and emptying operations if slurry is allowed to build up at one side.

"It is important to realise that some of the older designs may be suspect and weakened by long term exposure to slurry and effluent. If you have a slurry tank of this description you must take action by having its structural stability assessed by a suitably qualified person."

The HSENI called for anyone with possible concerns over their tank to contact them on 0800 0320 121 or visit the HSENI website at www.hseni.gov.uk.

(MB/SP)

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