With the 2017 cane harvesting underway, Ergon’s Customer Delivery Manager Mark Biffanti says community safety advisors will continue to work closely with the sugar cane industry to reduce electrical incidents.
The company says fatigue and entrenched work practices are the underlying cause of electrical incidents leading to poor safety performance during cane harvesting.
“Our aim is to prevent and reduce electrical incidents associated with cane harvesting and educate the industry about the dangers of working around electrical infrastructure.
“However, ultimately, machinery operators need to take personal responsibility for their own safety,” he said.
Mr. Biffanti said despite Ergon’s safety work with the industry, the number of electrical incidents remains static.
“There has been little change in the number of electrical incidents associated with cane harvesting in regional Queensland in recent years which is concerning.
“The issues are in the field situational awareness of electricity assets, fatigue as harvesting can be a 24 hour a day operation and complacency to their surroundings,” he said.
Ergon has renewed its “Look up and Live” campaign encouraging safe and legal work practices near powerlines during cane harvesting.
Mr. Biffanti advises 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.
- keep a safe distance between machinery and powerlines.
“That’s because electricity can arc – or jump if conductive material comes close enough and that’s why it’s vital to stay well away.”
Ergon Energy has information on working near powerlines at: https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/business-safety/the-outdoor-workplace/working-near-powerlines