Close calls be­set harvest

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LEANNE OLIVERI leanne. oliveri@ news. com. au

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.

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