Manure storage, handling safety and rescue training

Wisconsin State Farmer

SOUTH WAYNE - Manure storage and handling systems have changed in recent years due in part to larger farms, new technologies, and application restrictions. These manure storage and handling systems have potential hazards to workers and rescuers that include confined spaces. The gasses produced by manure as it decomposes require extra precautions when working with manure storage and handling systems.

Stahl Brothers Dairy of Luxemburg has been fined for over-appliying manure to frozen crop fields resulting in runoff that polluted a private drinking water well at a county residence. The manure also contaminated a county wetland.

Nationally, 143 fatalities involved livestock manure storage structures over the years. The most frequent (34 percent) activity at the time of death was conducting repairs or maintenance activities on manure handling equipment, such as pumps, while the second most frequent activity (22 percent) was attempting to perform a rescue of another person entrapped or overcome in a manure storage space.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin documented the first open air, non-enclosed manure storage fatality in Portage County in 2016. Additionally, manure gasses claimed 60 head of beef cattle in 2016 in Wisconsin. In 2015, confined space within a manure handling system in Chippewa County claimed the life of a father and son. Approximately one third of all documented incidents involving manure storage facilities are first responders attempting to aid an initial victim.

To help both farmers and emergency response personnel understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems, a safety workshop will be held at Cottonwood Dairy LLC, at 9600 Hwy D, South Wayne (southeast of Wiota)  from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., June 12. Please arrive by 6:15 p.m. to sign in.

The workshop will address confined space and manure gas safety procedures. Confined space and safety equipment, for use with manure storage and handling systems, such as gas monitors, ventilation equipment, and fall protection will be discussed. A confined space is a space where entry and exit is limited.

This workshop is designed for emergency response personnel including firefighters, EMT’s and law enforcement, as well as farmers and their employees who work in and around manure storage systems and confined spaces.

Speakers at the workshop will include Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Madison/Extension Agriculture Safety Specialist and Jeff Nelson, UW- Madison Machinery Specialist and Volunteer Firefighter.

The workshop is free of charge and space is limited to the first 75 people that register.

Participants must pre-register by calling the Lafayette County UW-Extension Office at 608-776-4820 or emailing

Registrations are due no later than June 9.

There is no cost for this training. The training is sponsored by the UW-Extension and Emergency Management Office in Lafayette and Green Counties, and will be held rain or shine.