View From Below

Australian Workers Film Guide


Commissioned by the Joint Coal Board, this film is an introduction to working underground for those joining the industry, with a particular emphasis on safety procedures.   The narrative is loosely constructed around the introduction of two new miners as they begin their first day at work, interspersed with information and instructional elements relevant to the task at hand.

The film begins with preparations on the surface, featuring shift deputies, mine inspections, reports and the two recruits changing into work clothes in the bathhouse, followed by lamp and self-rescuer collection and instruction, including the use of safety lamps. We then see miners travelling into the mine and being transported in shuttle cars, followed by instruction of methods of coal extraction, signs and services underground, ventilation, personal safety equipment, risks underground, conveyor belts, shuttle cars, continuous miners, coal extraction, dust suppression and the dangers of dusted lung, longwall mining, gas checks, coal dust explosion suppression techniques, roof support techniques, underground fire, emergency exits, mines rescue teams, injuries, the crib room, wages and conditions, safety inspectors and union check inspectors.

Mine management and chain of command is also explored, before we see miners knocking off work. Before driving off, the two recruits are introduced to the union officials, after which the film briefly touches on the health, leisure, cultural and educational amenities and services provided to miners and their communities through the efforts of the Joint Coal Board.

Special Notes/Achievements

This is the third of fifteen films in the Fitzgerald Collection.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 31 mins 27 secs

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Film Cinematographer: Edwin Scragg, John Fitzgerald,

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