Close calls beset harvest
HARVESTING operators are being urged to be extra vigilant about safety after a spate of near misses in the Burdekin in recent weeks.
A Burdekin harvest management meeting was told about seven separate safety incidents over the past month, including a cane transporter striking a powerline that resulted in its tyres being destroyed by fire. Other incidents involved a loco catching fire, a harvester driving out in front of a loco and bins being pushed out onto the main train line in front of a loco.
Wilmar Sugar Burdekin cane supply manager Steve Postma said the near misses were raised at last Tuesday’s meeting with canegrower representative groups as part of ongoing efforts to improve safety during the crushing season.
“This was by no means an exhaustive list of all the incidents that hap- pened over the month, but I’ve highlighted those on this list to demonstrate the sorts of incidents that have occurred in the area,” he said.
“It’s one of the ways we maintain awareness of safety issues and make sure people continue to remain vigilant about safety.”
Mr Postma said that while one near miss was one too many, the incident rate was down on previous years.
“For the season so far, we haven’t had a lot of incidents,” he said.
“When you consider the number of individual movements on the rail lines, in the paddocks and on the roads to move 400,000 tonnes of cane to the mills every week, there are going to be situations when someone gets too close to someone else. But I’m happy that things are better than what they have been in recent years.”
Canegrowers Burdekin general manager Debra Burden reiterated the need for people working in the cane harvesting arena to take extra care, especially around powerlines.
“There hasn’t been a fatality in the Burdekin harvesting sector for over 10 years, but certainly the near miss with the powerline reinforces the need for people to be careful. If the driver had jumped out of his truck he could have been electrocuted,” she said.
Meanwhile, Wilmar Sugar has been conducting audits to check whether haulout crews have completed mandatory online siding inductions.
More than 75 per cent of Burdekin haulout drivers have been audited, with full compliance so far. Audits of the remaining drivers will be completed by the end of this month.