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Snowy Hydro – Safety on the Snowy Scheme (1964)


Produced in 1964 by the SMHEA photographic unit (Harry Malcolm et al. with narration by James Dibble), it’s one of the many films made for the Snowy Mountains Joint Safety and Rehabilitation Council. The film sets out a range of safety measures being undertaken during construction on the Snowy Mountain Scheme.

Curator’s notes

In 1961, William Hudson, the first Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, established the Snowy Mountains Joint Safety and Rehabilitation Council. Occupational health was prioritised, with provision of high quality protective clothing and footwear, safety induction as well as in-service training and regular screening of safety films. This film, produced in 1964, is one of them.

Fatalities (of which there were 121) and serious injuries which occurred in the construction period were largely due to the technological limitations of the time. But there were two other major factors involved. One was the rigorous schedules and long shifts. The other was the fact that safety theory was not always translated into practice. The culture of the all-male workplace at the time was one where risk-taking and daring were highly valued, an environment intensified by the experiences of two world wars. A former tournapull operator described the atmosphere of the scheme as 'physically similar to being on war footing. ...On the job, the Snowy was very much a peacetime version of imminent danger and the will to survive.’