“A very stupid idea” is how a Melbourne man who was seriously injured in a forklift accident at work has described Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s suggestion to let minors drive forklifts to help ease the shortage of workers that’s crippling the nation’s supply chains.
Jake Grey, 23, was reversed over by a forklift driven by his boss at a Melbourne factory on December 1, 2020.
The casual machine operator had been wrapping pallets when the back wheel of a forklift caught his right foot.
He was thrown under the forklift’s wheel and the skin on the back of his right leg was torn open and his muscle ripped out.
The Lalor resident was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. It was also discovered that he’d sustained a broken foot.
Mr Grey remained in hospital for several weeks during which time he underwent two further surgeries, including a skin graft and a wound debridement.
Extensive rehabilitation followed, which he continues to undergo.
“When I heard that the Prime Minister had suggested allowing kids to drive forklifts I couldn’t believe it,” Mr Grey said.
“It’s a very stupid idea. Not only are forklifts heavy machinery, but they’re also really, really dangerous, and not something kids should be driving.”
In addition to the visible scars on his leg, Mr Grey said the mental scars were ongoing.
“It’s changed my life,” he said. “Aside from not being able to wear shorts in public anymore because I hate people looking at my leg or asking me about it, I’ll probably never be able to play footy again, I can’t do a lot of things I used to because of the pain it causes. I’ve also been diagnosed with PTSD and have shocking flashbacks and nightmares, so it’s had a really big impact.”
Workers’ compensation lawyer Juliana Mickoska, from Slater and Gordon, said she had represented many clients injured in forklift incidents.
“As Jake’s case highlights, forklifts are incredibly dangerous machines that can cause life-changing injuries,” she said.
“It is concerning to think of the increase in serious injuries that might occur if minors are allowed to start operating them, and workplace health and safety should always be prioritised.”