Manure Storage/Handling

Photo looking down into a manure reception pit

Photo looking down into a manure reception pit

The decomposition of manure that occurs in manure pits generates methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and ammonia gases. These gases can produce oxygen-deficient, toxic and/or explosive atmospheres.

A person might enter a manure pit one time without apparent problems, but the next time could die. The most serious problems with gases occur when manure is agitated or when ventilation systems fail. However, gases are constantly being produced and there is never a “safe” time to enter a pit.

To reduce the danger of manure pit gases, take the following precautions:

  • Never enter a pit, especially during or just after agitation. Without testing for toxic gases, there is no way to know if it is safe.
  • If absolutely necessary to enter a pit, always wear a self-contained breathing equipment with oxygen supplying tanks. Cartridge respirators are not sufficient.
  • Always wear a safety line and work with at least two other people outside the pit.
  • Remove all people and all animals from buildings over pits before pit agitation.
  • Provide maximum ventilation when agitating or pumping manure.
  • Do not smoke or have any other fire or ignition source around manure pits.
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