It might have been a spur-of-the-moment decision for two Melbourne men, but joining the craze of planking and posting their exploits on Facebook cost them their jobs and landed them in court for taking part in what WorkSafe says was a potentially deadly activity.
Stewart Kift, 49, and Cameron Denbesten, 28, were each fined $1500 after pleading guilty to charges laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the Ringwood Magistrates Court.
Kift was photographed by Denbesten about four metres off the ground on top of a spray booth at his employer’s Bayswater business in May, while Denbesten was photographed by Kift planking across the tynes of a forklift about four metres above the ground.
The risk of serious injury or death was high if either of them fell because neither wore safety harnesses or used any other form of fall protection, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
WorkSafe prosecutor Patrick McQuillan told the court that workplaces were not playgrounds, forklifts were not toys, and that over the past five years, 7000 Victorian workplace injuries caused by falls from height had cost $200 million in treatment and rehabilitation costs.
The men had escaped conviction by the “skin of their teeth” and had only been saved by exemplary references, a lack of prior offending and solid work history, said Magistrate Cashmore.
Denbesten and Kift admitted their stunt was “stupid” and both men lost their jobs as a result of the plankings.
The incidents brought together the issue of dangerous workplace pranks, the risk of falls from heights and improper use of forklifts, according to WorkSafe’s operations general manager of the health and safety division, Lisa Sturzenegger.
“Falls from height in all industries account for many deaths and serious injuries every year,” she said.
“Whether they happen on construction sites, farms or in warehouses, the possibility of death, brain damage, ending up in a wheelchair or broken bones are all-too-real possibilities.”