Burdekin-based Ergon Energy Area Manager Mark Biffanti has told people involved in the sugar cane crushing season to be aware of their surroundings.
Burdekin-based Ergon Energy Area Manager Mark Biffanti has told people involved in the sugar cane crushing season to be aware of their surroundings.

‘Lives are on the line’: Crush season call for safety

WITH the Proserpine crush season fast approaching, Ergon Energy has issued a warning to all involved to be aware of the importance of powerline safety in and around farms.

Last year Ergon Energy reported 20 machinery contacts with the overhead network during the 2019 crushing season in Queensland.

One of those incidents occurred in the Proserpine growing region when, in August 2019, a cane harvester hit a pole along the Strathdickie feeder line and caused network damage.

Burdekin-based Ergon Energy area manager Mark Biffanti grew up on a cane farm in upriver Home Hill and said the messaged of the importance of powerline safety on farms comes from the heart.

"Powerlines can be lethal and we know the ripple effect workplace accidents have on families, workmates and the community," he said.

Network damage was caused after a cane harvester hit a pole along the Strathdickie feeder line in August 2019. Picture: Ergon Energy
Network damage was caused after a cane harvester hit a pole along the Strathdickie feeder line in August 2019. Picture: Ergon Energy

"We want everyone to stay focused and stay safe so that at the end of their shift they can go home to their loved ones.

"We all need to take safety personally because lives are on the line when vehicles and machinery contact the electricity network.

"There were 12 incidents involving cane harvesters and eight incidents involving haul-outs last season, which is down on previous years, but there is obviously a lot of room for improvement."

 

MORE PROSERPINE SUGARCANE STORIES

Using waste to grow wonders in Proserpine

The group connecting young farmers and changing growing

EXPLAINED: Late crush start a positive for Prossie growers

 

Mr Biffanti said for cane harvester and haul-out operators who worked in shifts around the clock, situational awareness was critical.

"Sometimes people are so focused on the task at hand they don't see the inherent dangers out there," he said.

"You really need to look out for power lines when you're cutting cane because they can blend into the surroundings, but the risk is real and if you ignore it the consequences can be devastating."

Mr Biffanti recommended using Ergon Energy's overhead powerline mapping application where growers can access printable maps, request free safety advice or order powerline markers.

"It's a handy tool to help you map out the risks, so you know where those power poles and wires are, especially if you're operating machinery in unfamiliar territory or the entry and exit points around the paddocks have changed," he said.