Manure is risky business – we’re putting safety first!

Manure is risky business – we’re putting safety first!

MARCH 2023

As a part of our Emerging Issues Program, UMASH has been working to understand and prevent injuries and fatalities related to manure management.  A recent study by UMASH and colleagues at the University of Minnesota Extension explored the self-reported occupational hazards of manure applicators in Minnesota. In October 2022, UMASH’s Devon Charlier and Carol Peterson were invited to share the results of this study as a part of a webinar for the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community (LPELC). This talk, as well as presentations from Dr. Rebecca Larson on manure emissions and from Dr. Dee Elils on zoonotic disease threats, can be viewed here.

Study Findings
The study found that among surveyed manure applicators, 20% reported gas exposure symptoms related to their manure application work. Those who entered confined spaces or worked with swine manure had increased odds of reporting such symptoms. 9% reported injuries, some of which required a healthcare provider visit or a trip to the emergency room. Many indicated long work hours and fatigue as top concerns. On average, respondents worked over 18 hours per day during a “busy season,” which could last between two and four weeks. This is concerning, as fatigue can intensify other occupational hazards.

Farm Safety Check

Also in response to this emerging issue, UMASH created a new Farm Safety Checklist to help to prevent safety hazards along the path of manure management. Farmers, workers, and employees can use this checklist while working with manure, including storage, agitation, pumping, transportation, and application.

The UMASH outreach team will also use this resource to facilitate worker safety training at six Minnesota Commercial Animal Waste Technician continuing education workshops in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Extension this year.

As we work to address this emerging issue, stay tuned on our website and sign up for our e-mail listserv to stay informed as we work to address this emerging issue in agricultural health and safety.

Report an Emerging Issue:

If you have or hear of a concern that could harm the agricultural community’s health and safety, please complete and submit our online form. Your input will inform UMASH about health and safety concerns on the farm and guide activities to address them.