Cane shredder incident requires thorough probe

Dear Editor,

I make reference to a news item in the SN edition of Aug. 15th, 2018 titled `Uitvlugt cane shredder runs out of control’ describing an incident that occurred at Uitvlugt factory where “about 70 knives or hammers” were sent “flying”.

Editor, I trust that the new CEO of GuySuCo, will ensure an unbiased and thorough investigation is conducted into this industrial fiasco. An occurrence of this nature cannot be categorized as a normal or freak accident. It is because it occurred on a scheduled and progammed start-up of the factory. Prior to start-up of this kind, this specific piece of equipment had to be inspected, tested, verified and approved for operation.

For it to send 70 rectangular pieces of solid carbon steel (knives) weighing approximately 20 lbs each, spinning at 600+ revolutions per minute (rpm), into the air is proof of systemic engineering failure caused by deteriorating engineering standards. It must be divine intervention that saved employees’ lives from high velocity, steel projectiles and shrapnel.

While this fiasco has huge financial impact (repair cost, opportunity time, sugar losses, etc.), the potential loss of life from this incident was enormous which necessitates an inquiry into areas such as established

procedures for turbines going “out of” and “returning to” service, turbine tests, trip-speed tests, on-site verification of turbine and trip-speed tests by qualified engineers, training of employees conducting tasks for tests, preliminary checks to be done before start-up, approvals from technical and managerial staff for turbines and knives going into service after repairs and maintenance, etc.

Editor, Uitvlugt has many layers of engineering and supervisory staff to ensure engineering standards are maintained. Added to this, GuySuCo employed a platoon of engineers (approx. 5) since 2015 at its Head Office to provide technical guidance and oversight to factories on engineering standards. This staff increase occurred simultaneously while reducing the number of operating factories from 7 to 3. With an expanded technical management on top and less operating factories, there is no excuse on shortage of engineering skills to support and guide factories during critical times such as start-ups at beginning of crops and shut-downs at end of crops. Do we have a situation of gross incompetence or dereliction of duties from Head Office to Estate? Will GuySuCo place all blame on rank and file workers for this fiasco?

Yours faithfully,

Sookram Persaud

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