Forklift fun comes at a cost

Monday, 17 November, 2008

Dangerous forklift driving has cost a young worker his job, his forklift licence, 50 hours of unpaid community work, $1200 court costs and an order to do a five-day OHS course.

WorkSafe Victoria prosecuted 20-year-old Seymour man Matthew Ward after he posted a video of himself doing stunts on a forklift on YouTube. The video, which has now been removed, showed him deliberately crashing into concrete pipes, doing burnouts and overloading the machine so he could do wheelies. Ward was not wearing a seatbelt, putting him at risk of serious injury or death.

The clip was on YouTube for nearly two months when it was seen by his boss in July 2007. Ward was later sacked for misconduct.

WorkSafe executive director (Health and Safety) John Merritt said forklifts were among the most dangerous pieces of equipment in Victorian workplaces, accounting for 56 lives lost since 1985, of whom 19 were forklift drivers: “Unless forklifts are used correctly, the consequences are often serious, especially if a seatbelt was not used and the machine tipped. In this case, the young man put himself at risk, and while he suffered no physical injury, has had to face legal and other consequences which have ongoing consequences.

“With WorkSafe currently running a campaign targeting young workers, our message continues to be: ‘Don’t take unnecessary risks’. You might think you’re in control of the situation, but when something goes wrong, it will happen quickly, with little warning, often with permanent consequences. Posting stunts like this on YouTube encourages other people to do the same thing, putting them at risk as well.”

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