The pressure of the slurry deadline on farmers meant that thousands of men would have been doing exactly what Alistair Sloss was doing on Friday – desperately trying to make the most of the slurry spreading season – when he was struck by tragedy.
DUP MLA Edwin Poots, who comes from a farming background, offered his condolences to the family of Mr Sloss, and said that the end of the slurry spreading season meant there was a high level of farming activity when the Coagh man died.
He said: “In my own community nearly every farmer was at the slurry on Thursday and Friday to get things cleared up before the ban. There was a lot of pressure on.
“It’s an absolute tragedy for this family. My thoughts are with them. This man who had five children is no longer there for them.”
Mr Poots, who was close to the Spence family, who were hit by their own slurry tragedy in 2012, said: “No matter how many health and safety procedures are put in place, farms will always be dangerous. For example, animals can weigh up to a tonne and machinery is twice the size it used to be.
“I support the work the Health & Safety Executive is doing in seeking to make farms safer by a process of education. Farmers will respond better to that approach than someone coming to prosecute them.
“The number of farm deaths had been going down this year, not that it will matter to this grieving family.
“If you put everything in place it will greatly reduce the opportunity for accidents to take place but there are things that will happen that are unavoidable. It is possible to have zero deaths on farms, but some circumstances are beyond control.”