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Can magnets prevent manure pit deaths?

By Staff | Oct 23, 2015

-Photo courtesy of Penn State University AN EXAMPLE of a magnet with a drop rope picking up a pulley wheel.

UNIVERSITY?PARK, PA. (Penn State University) – Earlier this year, within a three week period, a father and son in both Wisconsin and Iowa perished in swine facility manure pit incidents.

The common thread in both cases was a tool or mechanical part that dropped into the manure pit during repairs.

All four victims were reported to have been overcome by manure gases.

Several other incidents have occurred when a helper has entered the pit to rescue the first person who entered the pit to retrieve something, and became victims themselves.

Simply put no one should enter a manure pit for any reason unless it has been adequately ventilated and evaluated with a gas monitoring device.

In the absence of both these actions, the person needs to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to enter a manure pit.

When a tool or other object is accidentally dropped into a pit, the impulse to quickly enter to retrieve it is the first reaction.

In some instances, it may be possible to use a strong magnet at the end of a rope to retrieve the item.

Magnets rated to 100 pounds or more with an eye bolt are relatively inexpensive ($10 to $20) and can be found at local hardware stores or online.

With a rope or chain attached to a magnet, a dropped steel item could be retrieved.

While this may not be workable in every instance for a dropped item, it is an option that farm operators should consider putting into practice.

The steps to implement this idea include the following:

  • Purchase the appropriate size magnet.
  • Attach a sufficient length of rope or chain to the magnet.
  • Keep it nearby when a repair or maintenance is to occur.

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