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Ask the Expert Protecting Your Team from Asphyxiating Gases

Sheila James, Health & Safety Consultant

Jason Killoran, Senior Health & Safety Consultant                                                                                


“You can’t see or hear manure gas or silo gas, but they can kill you as quickly as being run over by a tractor,” says Sheila James.

As two senior health and safety consultants at WSPS, Sheila and Jason Killoran know a thing or two about the devastating effect of gasses on farm operations.

Simple Precautions Make All the Difference

“Farms with manure lagoons may use an agitator for mixing the manure before it is loaded into a tanker wagon and taken to the field. If the agitator gets clogged, someone has to enter this confined space to unclog it,” says Killoran.

“Unfortunately, if this is done without proper attention to safety, it can result in asphyxiation and death. A few simple precautions make all the difference, such as: first, utilizing a large fan to ventilate the space, a four-gas monitor to confirm the air is clear and self-contained breathing apparatus”

“Even after a manure tanker wagon is emptied, manure gas can remain in it,” states James. “It is important that these precautions are taken if someone goes inside. Again, ventilation is critical, along with other measures to ensure it is safe to enter. Wear a harness and have a buddy able to hoist you out if you are overcome with manure gas.”

Up to Four Weeks after Filling

Silo gas can accumulate and remain in an upright silo for up to 4 weeks after filling. It is a heavy gas and will even come down the silo chute. Prior to entering a silo during this time, ventilate the silo with a fan or blower for at least an hour prior to entry. Use a four-gas monitor and a self-contained breathing apparatus if silo gas levels are too high.

If you have any concerns about silo or manure gas on your farm please contact WSPS Customer Care at 1 877 494 WSPS (9777). They will put you in touch with Sheila, Jason or another Consultant who will be happy to assist you.

For more information, view the Agricultural Topic Fact Sheet: Silo Safety.