Cane har­vesters re­minded to Look Up and Live

Isis Town and Country - - News -

THE num­ber of elec­tri­cal safety in­ci­dents as­so­ci­ated with cane har­vest­ing re­mains stub­bornly high in the Bund­aberg, Isis and Mary­bor­ough dis­tricts – a sit­u­a­tion Er­gon Energy wants to see re­versed.

Act­ing cus­tomer ser­vice de­liv­ery man­ager for Fraser and Bur­nett Matt Aberdein said seven of the 24 elec­tri­cal in­ci­dents dur­ing the crush­ing sea­son in re­gional Queens­land last year were recorded in the Wide Bay.

Mr Aberdein said this in­cluded five in­ci­dents in­volv­ing cane har­vesters and two from haul-out ma­chin­ery.

“This re­sult is very con­cern­ing be­cause we are see­ing the sta­tis­tics head­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion af­ter record­ing only 11 in­ci­dents in to­tal from 2007 to 2010 and then be­ing in­ci­dent-free in 2011,” he said.

“In con­trast, the past three years have pro­duced eight, 10 and then seven elec­tri­cal safety in­ci­dents.

“As this year’s cane har­vest­ing sea­son gets into full swing, Er­gon is again urg­ing farm­ers and har­vest­ing con­trac­tors to Look Up and Live and ex­er­cise ex­treme care when op­er­at­ing ma­chin­ery near power lines.

“Many in­ci­dents in­volv­ing farm ve­hi­cles and power lines can be avoided, even though the size of the equip­ment used dur­ing har­vest­ing means the risk of con­tact­ing over­head pow­er­lines can be high.”

Mr Aberdein ad­vised farm­ers and har­vesters to:

Think through the task and iden­tify all elec­tri­cal haz­ards As­sess the risks Es­tab­lish and in­tro­duce con­trol mea­sures

Clear around power poles and pole stay wires dur­ing day­light only

Do the job safely and have a safety ob­server on hand

Look out for your mates

“Keep­ing a safe dis­tance be­tween ma­chin­ery and pow­er­lines is even more vi­tal in the case of high volt­age lines, as op­er­a­tors don’t need to come into con­tact with them to be at risk of elec­tric shock,” he said.

“Elec­tric­ity can arc – or jump – if con­duc­tive ma­te­rial comes close enough and that’s why it’s vi­tal to stay well away.”

Safety laws make it illegal to op­er­ate ma­chin­ery such as cane har­vesters, haul-out ve­hi­cles, cranes and ex­ca­va­tors within three me­tres of pow­er­lines un­less op­er­a­tors are au­tho­rised.

Train­ing was avail­able to en­able in­di­vid­u­als to work within the three-me­tre ex­clu­sion zone, he said.

Er­gon con­tin­ues to work closely with the sugar cane in­dus­try and other agri­cul­tural sec­tors. “Our safety ad­vi­sors con­tinue to

ed­u­cate and work closely with the in­dus­try to try to re­duce the num­ber of elec­tri­cal ac­ci­dents in our cane grow­ing ar­eas,” he said

To co­in­cide with the start of the harvest, Er­gon Energy has re­newed its Look Up and Live cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing safe and le­gal work prac­tices near power lines.

PHOTO: MIKE KNOTT BUN040714HAR3

THE CRUSH: Cane har­vesters need to be care­ful when work­ing near pow­er­lines.

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