Timely safety re­minder for cot­ton grow­ers

Australian Farmers & Dealers Journal - - NEWS -

COT­TON grow­ers Aus­tralia-wide are be­ing re­minded to make safety a pri­or­ity in the midst one of the most dan­ger­ous pe­ri­ods of the year – har­vest. In­jury claims cost the cot­ton in­dus­try over $5 mil­lion each year, with the key risks of death or in­jury be­ing mo­tor vehicles (in­clud­ing utes, cars, quads, trucks) and electricity, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by the Pri­mary In­dus­tries Health and Safety Part­ner­ship (PIHSP). Aware­ness of these risks is high at Jonathan Men­gel's prop­erty at Nang­wee, near Dalby in the Dar­ling Downs re­gion of Queens­land, who says it's a sober­ing re­minder to hear about in­ci­dents and near-misses through the me­dia or at lo­cal events. “We've been lucky that we've had no is­sues our­selves, but we wouldn't get through a sea­son with­out hear­ing about some­one hit­ting a power line, or knock­ing one down,” he said. At­tribut­ing this safety success to luck is prob­a­bly mis­lead­ing as Mr Men­gel's com­pany takes safety very se­ri­ously. “We have an in­duc­tion pro­gram for our staff, which we got off the Cot­ton Aus­tralia web­site and mod­i­fied. It ba­si­cally ex­plains the way our ma­chin­ery is op­er­ated and as­so­ci­ated dan­gers, and what we ex­pect of our em­ploy­ees,” he said. “We go through it when our staff come on farm for har­vest, when we can have up to eight ca­sual work­ers, and give them a chance to ask any ques­tions or make con­cerns known. “We'll also have smoko to­gether in the morn­ing each day of har­vest while wait­ing for the dew to dry, which is a good chance to dis­cuss spe­cific risks in the pad­docks we will pick that day. We're also in con­tact while ev­ery­one is pick­ing, re­mind­ing each other of haz­ards and just tak­ing a lot of care. Even be­fore har­vest starts, Mr Men­gel spends a lot of time en­sur­ing all ma­chin­ery is in safe, work­ing or­der, and even then a main­te­nance per­son on the ground through­out har­vest to en­sure any on­go­ing main­te­nance is done ef­fi­ciently and cor­rectly. Cot­ton grow­ers, man­agers and work­ers all have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to en­sure safety is fore­most dur­ing the cot­ton har­vest, when fa­tigue can be an added fac­tor. As Jonathon Men­gel puts it, ev­ery­one should al­ways think be­fore they act. “It's a busy time, and you do have to be care­ful with tem­pers fray­ing and how you deal with prob­lems,” he said. “As well as the im­pact on our work­ers and their fam­i­lies if an in­ci­dent oc­curs, the pick will es­sen­tially be over, which racks up costs that can be sig­nif­i­cant. Ac­ci­dents are just not an op­tion,” he con­cluded. Cot­ton Aus­tralia has a range of Work­place Health and Safety re­sources avail­able for grow­ers in the Cot­tonSafe sec­tion of its web­site. • De­tails: www.cot­tonaus­tralia.com.au or

www.mybmp.com.au

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