Safety and

Confined Spaces


On June 26, 1989, a 31-year-old male dairy farmer and his 33-year-old brother died after entering a 25-foot-square, four and a half foot-deep manure pit inside a building on their farm.

On July 26, 1989, five farm workers died after consecutively entering a manure pit on their farm. The pit measured 20 by 24 feet and was 10 feet deep. The victims were a 65-year-old dairy farmer, his two sons aged 37 and 28, a 15-year-old grandson, and a 63-year-old nephew. 

On Aug. 15, 2016 a rural Amherst farmer died near a manure storage from acute exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas.

On Sept. 14, 2016 a 16 year old farm boy in Clark County died after he entered a manure tanker he was using to haul manure. It is believed he entered the manure tanker for maintenance issues.

The farmer who died at Amherst had started to agitate a manure storage in the early morning. The wind was calm, the sky was clear and a heavy ground fog blanketed the farm. This created a temperature inversion which trapped the hydrogen sulfide close to the ground around the manure storage. In this incident a 29 year old farmer died along with 13 cattle.

The death in Clark County was a case of a person entering a manure tanker, a confined space, for maintenance issues without it being adequately ventilated.

Farming is listed as the second most dangerous occupation behind mining. There are untold numbers of farmers who have lost fingers, arms, legs – or their lives due to farm accidents. Safety however needs to be topic at the top of everyone’s thought process. The issue of confined spaces can be found in nearly every business and in many of our homes. All rural homes that have an underground septic tank, any business that uses any type of a tank which has limited access openings would be a confined space.

Businesses have very stringent rules and guidelines which must be followed when any employee needs to enter a confined space. Lock Out-Tag Out is a process which allows the employee to padlock the controls of any equipment in a confined space or when working on any equipment so it is not inadvertently turned on while the employee is working on it. There are requirements that any employee entering into a confined space wear a body harness, have a second employee assisting, and that there be a winch on site that is capable of extracting a person from that space.

Safety should be always at the top of everyone’s thought process. My father always told us that we can replace a machine, but you can never replace an eye or an arm. My daughter went to school with a girl who lost fingers on her hand after falling off of a lawnmower while her parent was giving her a ride while mowing the lawn.

Safety is for farmers and non-farmers. Keep guards on all equipment, whether it’s a table saw or a corn harvester. We are entering into the fall harvest season. This will mean more agricultural equipment on our roadways. Drive safely and watch for flashing lights and slow moving vehicle signs.