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Manure Pits

Loss Prevention: Manure Pits, Product Recalls, Smoke Detectors

Fall 2021 Issue

By Sabine Voigt, Loss Control Consultant

In August 2021, three brothers in Mercer County, Ohio, died after becoming trapped in a manure pit on their livestock farm. They had been fixing a manure pump before passing out from the fumes.

Manure pits can produce dangerous gases, including hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia. Some of these gases can lead to headaches, dizziness, breathing trouble and death. The combination of methane and hydrogen sulfide also can be explosive.

An estimated 39% of victims in confined space incidents were people attempting to rescue the initial victim.

For farm owners and operators who have manure pits, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alert recommends:

  • All manure pits should be ventilated.
  • The atmosphere within the pit should be tested before entry.
  • A standby person should be in constant contact and ready to lift the worker to safety with a mechanical lifting equipment device. A delay of a few minutes could be fatal.

If an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere is detected, a positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) should be used by anyone entering the pit — as long as they are properly trained.

NIOSH also recommends that farm owners and operators:

  • Post hazard signs.
  • Provide a powered, continuous fresh-air ventilation system.
  • Use explosion-proof ventilation equipment.
  • Fit openings with substantial metal grill covers for some natural supplemental ventilation and to prevent falls.
  • Eliminate the need for entry by providing access to all serviceable parts from the outside.

Product Recalls

Gree Dehumidifiers: This recall involves 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, 50, 65 and 70-pint dehumidifiers with brand names Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, GE, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. The brand name and the pint capacity are printed on the front of the dehumidifier. The model number and date code are printed on a sticker on the back, front or side of the unit. The dehumidifiers are white, beige, gray or black plastic and are 19 to 24 inches tall, 13 to 15 inches wide, and 9 to 11 inches deep. For a complete list of model numbers, click here.

New Widetech-Produced Dehumidifiers: Nearly 2 million dehumidifiers of various brand names have been recalled because they can overheat and catch fire, posing fire and burn hazards. For more information, click here.

Dormakaba Delayed Egress Locks: The lockset can fail to open, posing an entrapment hazard and inability to vacate a location in an emergency. For more information, click here.

Smoke detectors

An inspection report usually includes photos of detectors if they are present. Ask about the number, age, type and areas of installation. If a detector is 10 years or older from the date of manufacture, it should be replaced. NFPA provides details regarding installation and maintenance here.

If you’d like to discuss these guidelines or other loss prevention topics, please reach out to the Mutual Assistance team at any time.