Historical overview of the Sunshine Harvester Works' First Aid Room.

Year established: Between 1911 and 1913

Workers in the Sunshine Harvester Works' factory were exposed to many dangers. Injuries were regular occurrences in the factory. As a result, the factory had its own First Aid Room. From the late 1930s, this department became known as the 'Ambulance Room' or 'Medical Centre'.

The centre was staffed by a qualified nurse who attended to injuries ranging from small cuts to burns, loss of body parts and even fatalities. The company began to train factory employees in first aid so they could assist when medical staff were unavailable. The First Aid Room was also equipped with its own ambulance wagon transported injured workers to the nearby hospital.

As awareness of occupational health and safety increased throughout the twentieth century, nurses' roles in the factory also changed. As well as attending to employees' medical needs, nurses encouraged occupational health and safety practices and reported on matters relating to workplace injuries. Furthermore, factory nurses maintained a close relationship with local doctors and the hospital.

Nurses who worked in the First Aid Room included Sister Sarah Ann Jewell (who served the company in the 1930s), Sister Vera Lillian Dunn (1936-1947), Sister Carruthers (1946-1954) and Sister Eileen O'Connor (1955-1981).

'Sunshine: Employees' Accident Society', Independent, 19 Aug 1911, p.3.
'Successful Social Held by Ern Nayler's Department', 1937, Sunshine Advocate, 8 January, p.4.
Ray Browne and Eileen O'Connor (former Sunshine Harvester Works employees), personal recollections held at Museum Victoria, March and October 2000, April 2001, November 2003 and May 2004.
H.V McKay Factory Site Plan 1911, held at Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 9479.
H.V McKay Factory Site Plan, 1913, held at Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 9466.
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