The mechanisation of sugarcane harvesting in Brazil has experienced significant growth. Mechanical sugarcane harvesters have been rapidly improving to meet the demands of the industry. Operating a harvester machine requires knowledge and competence. This article aims to demonstrate the role of the operator competence in carrying out their task and in the quality of their performance. By applying the Ergonomic Work Analysis (EWA), the activity in an actual work situation was described, and the basic competencies required for satisfactory operation were identified. The primary operator competencies consist of performing the adjustment of the machine; operating the machine on a slope and on uneven ground; harvesting different types of cane; operating at night; avoiding damage, diagnosing problems and performing repairs on the machine; and performing multiple tasks.
Key words: Ergonomics, competence, harvester machine, mechanical harvesting, sugarcane.
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