Contractors: Safety at slurry needs to be top priority in 2021

All contractors have been called on by the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) to ensure that safety remains a top priority as the slurry spreading season prepares to re-open in some areas of the country, from next week.

While the entire country has moved into Level 5 restrictions from December 30, 2020, the FCI has assured that agri contractors are designated as essential services for agriculture.

This, the FCI adds, means that contractors will remain open for business as the slurry spreading season begins.

Commenting, FCI national chairman, John Hughes said:

The current 5km travel restriction does not apply to the work of farm and forestry contractors and we urge all of those working in the Farm Contractor sector to take extra safety and sanitising precautions, as safety at slurry spreading takes on a new meaning in 2021.

“With the opportunity to be open for contractors’ businesses, comes the added responsibility not to add to any further risk of spreading this deadly Covid-19 virus,” Hughes added.

“We urge all contractors to operate with the greatest care for their staff and customers alike. Double your efforts for the next few weeks, while doing your essential work, and this will help defeat the virus.

“If we do this well, this could hopefully prove to be the third and final lockdown of this epidemic,” he said.

On the point of Covid-19, the FCI has called on contractors to ensure that all of their services are provided in accordance with government guidelines.

Continuing, Hughes said: “It is important that we maintain the same standards of machine and personal hygiene that were in place from March 2020.

“This means not sharing machines, only one person per vehicle cab at all times, wearing gloves and masks and not entering customer’s houses for food or other reasons.”

Safety and slurry

The FCI is also  urging contractors and their teams to be extra vigilant in terms of machine and slurry gas safety as the national health services are already under considerable pressure.

During agitation, there is no such thing as a safe tank since slurry gas is always produced at varying concentrations and durations during agitation.

“No one should enter livestock buildings and livestock should be removed from sheds, before agitation begins while operators should not stand close to slurry pumps,” the FCI chairman warned.

The organisation is advising contractors to ensure that all slurry machine safety guards and devices are in place, in a final checklist before the season begins.

The FCI is urging contractors not to take any chances with their health and well-being, or that of their staff and customers.

Hughes said: “Taking the proper actions, will not only save you, your family/ loved ones, relatives, and friends, but all of those that you and your teams come into contact with during your work on farms.

Pay particular attention to slurry gas dangers and machine safety while maintaining social distancing at all times.

“Let’s all do our best to reduce farm fatalities. As contractors we can all play our part in making 2021 a safe, healthy and prosperous year by starting with a new level of safety awareness at slurry spreading,” the chairman concluded.