Celebrate awards season with Safety & Hygiene’s 1947 “Oscar” Winner!

By Amelia Klein, BWC Librarian

While you may be heading to theaters for a last chance to see this year’s Oscar hopefuls, the BWC Library decided to go back in time to celebrate the Division of Safety & Hygiene’s (DSH’s) very own award-winning film, “Men Who Come Back.”

First, a little history: In 1937, the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and the Motion Picture Association of America formed the Film Safety Awards Committee. The goal of the committee was to further the theatrical production of highway safety films. In 1943, the award’s scope expanded to include non-theatrical motion pictures and slide films in the categories of home, occupational and general safety. Renamed the National Committee on Films for Safety in 1945, the committee judges included:

  • The National Safety Council;
  • The American Red Cross;
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers;
  • The National Fire Protection Association;
  • As well as representatives from the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy.

In 1947, for the Best Non-Theatrical Motion Picture in the Industrial Safety Field, the winner was … “Men Who Come Back.” Our very own DSH created it and filmed it in Ohio industries! Beginning with statistics on workers’ compensation claims in Ohio, the film shows how men and women can work safely and return home to their families every day. Highlights include setting machine guards, the dangers of not wearing eye protection, eating a well-balanced lunch and the safety of women welders.

Speaking at the celebratory banquet on May 14, 1947, National Safety Council President Ned H. Dearborn gave “a stirring inspirational address on safety, with emphasis on the accident situation in the occupational field” calling for “support for the various agencies whose services are devoted to accident prevention work.” He then paid tribute to the Industrial Commission of Ohio’s DSH before presenting the award to Ohio Gov. Thomas J. Herbert “to the vociferous acclaim of the audience.” Gov. Herbert echoed the call to support safety organizations stating, “Ohio will intensify safety education in all fields to the end that our people shall have the benefit of every possible safeguard at home, at work and on the highway” before congratulating DSH for winning such recognition and high praise.

nsc-trophyOur bronze “Oscar” is still on display in our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health museum.

You can find the article detailing the award ceremony as printed in the June 1947 edition of the Ohio Industrial Commission Monitor here.

To preserve this award-winning film for future generations, the BWC Library has recently digitized its 16mm copy.

Written and directed by H.F. Hillebrandt with photography by V.R. McQuilkin, here is “Men Who Come Back.

Note: A small portion of the beginning is missing from this digitized version of the film.

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