Essential Energy's John Nasser (Tweed Area Manager) and Brian Maclean (Regional Manager).
Essential Energy's John Nasser (Tweed Area Manager) and Brian Maclean (Regional Manager). Greg Martin

Warning as cane burn begins

ESSENTIAL Energy is putting a lot of energy into ensuring workers harvesting what should be a bumper sugar cane crop in the Northern Rivers this season do so without harming themselves and damaging the electricity infrastructure.

The company has launched its latest public safety campaign to promote safe work habits for growers, harvesters and contractors in a bid to prevent electrical incidents during the harvest season which commenced in the Tweed last Monday.

The campaign features the distribution of a free industry-specific safety kit with the aim of protecting workers, the public and the electricity network to ensure the continuity of the power supply.

With underground cables and power poles alongside or in the crop areas, unwary cane workers are capable of causing death, injury and disruption to electricity supplies if they or their machines inadvertently burn, damage or dig up infrastructure.

Essential Energy is leaving no stone unturned to make sure landholders and sugar cane harvesters are fully conscious of the whereabouts of electricity infrastructure as they go about their tasks.

"Providing landholders contact us 12 hours prior to commencing the burn and harvest, Essential Energy is going so far as to put a technician on each harvest site to instruct workers about safety issues in regards to electricity infrastructure," Essential Energy's Tweed area manager John Nasser said.

"Last season we had no incidents in the Northern Rivers harvest area which extends from down near Grafton up to the Tweed River and we are doing our utmost to make sure this season remains incident free as well."

This year's local sugar cane harvest season was delayed by several weeks due to the wet weather, which in turn put additional growth into the crops.

"This in turn will ensure that the burns will be more fierce than normal," Mr Nasser said.

"Taller crops will put more height into the fires so workers will need to closely monitor any burns near power poles."

The big chimney stack at Condong Sugar Mill is now belching away as the first of the crops are being processed and the same is occurring further south at in mills at Broadwater and Harwood.



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