Snowy worker critical after Talbingo crash

A man aged in his late 50s was taken to Canberra Hospital with serious injuries after the Toyota Hilux he was driving collided with a truck on the Snowy Mountains Highway at the top of Talbingo Mountain on Saturday.

The accident occurred in high wind and heavy rain.

Emergency service crews, including Tumut SES, Fire and Rescue, RFS, ambulance and police were called to the scene just before 6pm. The Hilux impacted on the side of the truck.

Tumut SES volunteers had to cut the man out of the wreckage of the Hilux, as the driver’s door was heavily damaged. 

He was freed and taken by ambulance to The Canberra Hospital with serious injuries, including to his head and arm.

No one else was injured in the collision.

The crash has prompted the Australian Workers’ Union to accuse Snowy 2.0 lead contractor Future Generation of priortising deadlines ahead of worker safety.

The union said the crane supervisor involved in the car crash, between the Talbingo turnoff and Old Adaminaby Road, was returning to remote offsite accommodation in the middle of a storm.

Due to the weather conditions he was unable to be evacuated by helicopter and had to be transported by road to Canberra Hospital.

The AWU warned that unless there are major changes to workplace safety and housing there is a high chance more workers will be injured.

“This worker should never have been put in this situation. Future Generation should have halted work earlier in the day when the storm began to hit,” said AWU NSW Assistant Branch Secretary Tony Calllinan.

“This worker would still have had a long drive ahead of him, but at least he would have been travelling in safe driving conditions.

“Snowy Hydro has been beset by delays due to last summer’s bushfires and COVID-19 but it’s completely unacceptable that workers are being expected to pick up the slack by putting their lives at risk.

“This is tier one civil engineering project of national importance but safety standards are dangerously sub-standard.”

The vast majority of the 1000 workers on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project are being housed off-site at remote accommodation up to 60-90 minutes away, Mr Callinan said.

“This incident should be a wake-up call for Future Generation to finish its onsite accommodation and amenities before proceeding with the tunnelling phase of the project. That should be its most pressing deadline.

“121 men lost their lives building the original Snowy Mountains scheme and the AWU will not allow history to be repeated.”

In a statement to the Times, Future Generation Joint Venture, the principal contractor for Snowy 2.0, and Snowy Hydro, said they were deeply distressed to learn of the vehicle accident.

“We are focused on the support and recovery of our injured colleague and the welfare of his family and the broader Snowy 2.0 workforce,” a spokesperson said.

“Safety is always our number one priority. NSW Police is investigating the road accident and Future Generation is assisting with their enquiries.