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Occupational Health & Safety at Sunshine Harvester Works

Photograph - H.V.McKay Massey Harris, Welding, Sunshine, July 1955

Image: Photograph - H.V.McKay Massey Harris, Welding, Sunshine, July 1955

Source: Museum Victoria

The work environment in the Sunshine Harvester Works factory was challenging at times. In the first part of the 20th century, workers were exposed to many dangers posed by factory machinery and equipment. As a result, there were many workplace accidents and a few deaths.

The company had various methods of addressing workplace accidents. Injured workers were taken to the factory's First Aid Room where they were cared for by a qualified nurse and doctor. Workers also received first aid training and formed a fire brigade to combat blazes on site. In addition, financial assistance was provided to ill or injured workers.

As the 20th century progressed, awareness of occupational health and safety grew and, as a result, conditions in the factory improved. For instance, change and shower rooms were introduced into the factory, as well as designated lunch areas. The greatest improvement came when Massey-Ferguson took over the company in 1955. Massey-Ferguson spent £500,000 on overhauling the factory, including updating machinery, improving ventilation and reducing fumes and dust. General repairs and maintenance were also carried out on buildings.

Within a few years, the factory's safety record drastically improved as the company implemented a strict safety program. Protective clothing and safety gear was made mandatory for those working and entering the factory. Safety seminars and training classes were introduced, while the factory nurse was instructed to carry out hearing and eye tests. In addition,there were 10-15 minute exercise sessions held for workers in the mornings.

References
Interview with Peter Chettle by Liza Dale-Hallett, 31 March 2006. Held in Museum Victoria H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, registration no. HT 33613.
'Accident Fund Society', Independent, 21 Aug 1909, p.2.
'Sunshine: Employees' Accident Society', Independent, 19 Aug 1911, p.3.
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1962, 'Eyes Right in Goggles', vol. 1, no. 2, pp.5.
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1962, 'Safety Specs Saved Furnaceman's Sight', vol. 1, no.4, pp.7
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1963, 'Safety Seminar Attended by 170', vol. 1, no. 7, pp.6.
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1964, '£10,000 Starts Sunshine Clean Air Plan', vol. 1, no. 10, pp.5.
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1965, 'We Made Early Start on Apprentice Recruitment', vol. 1, no. 16, pp.15.
Related Narratives
Apprenticeships at Sunshine Harvester Works
Bult Family at Sunshine Harvester Works
Bibliography Relating to Sunshine Harvester Works
Charitable Work and Sunshine Harvester Works
Employee Welfare Assistance at Sunshine Harvester Works
Factory Site of Sunshine Harvester Works
Female Employment at Sunshine Harvester Works
H.V McKay Massey Harris Pty Ltd
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Hugh V. McKay, Agricultural Implement & Machinery Manufacturer, Ballarat & Sunshine, Victoria
Massey-Ferguson (Aust.) Ltd., Agricultural & Construction Equipment Manufacturers & Importers, Sunshine, Victoria
McKay's Brandnames
Origin of the 'Sunshine' Brandname
Social Gatherings at Sunshine Harvester Works
Sunshine Harvester Works, Contributions to the War Effort, World War I, 1914-1920
Sunshine Harvester Works, Contributions to the War Effort, World War II, 1940-1945
Sunshine Harvester Works, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia
Sunshine Stripper Harvester

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