Manure Pit Safety for First Responders

By: Michelle King, Ag Rescue Program Coordinator Intern
There are many hazards located on a farm. One of these hazards, which can be deadly as well, is a manure pit. Farmers use a manure pit to store any manure their animals produce on the farm and to use that manure for fertilizer later in the growing season for their crops. There are many dangers that come with a manure pit. The biggest dangers are the harmful gases that are produced from manure sitting in a pit. These gases include hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

  What are some factors that might cause a manure pit emergency?

  1. Changing or fixing a part in the pit without checking the air quality
  2. Retrieving tools or an object that has fallen into the pit
  3. Improper ventilation in the pit
  4. Agitation in the pit (causes gases to be moved and released in the pit)

As first responders, please be aware of the dangerous gases located in a manure pit.

  • In some cases there may be more than one victim because of failed attempts to rescue by family members.
  • Make sure the area is properly ventilated.
  • Check for air quality and dangerous gases.
  • Make sure to wear the proper gear such as a full respirator to ensure you can breathe to make a successful rescue.
  • Have an attendant at the entrance of the pit that can monitor the rescue attempt.
  • Have additional personnel suited up in the event they are needed to assistant in the rescue.
  • Training is also important to know what to do in this situation. Those responding to manure pit emergencies should have training in confined space rescue.

Be aware of the dangers on a farm and be prepared to make a successful rescue when called out to a farm situation.

For more information or questions contact the OSU Safety and Health office at (614) 292-6008 or at