Safe Solutions

Rolling into trouble

Jesse had been disposing of roofing materials all morning and had kept up well with the other workers. The crew was tearing off and reroofing the roofing company's office building and garage, and today, they were starting the second of four sections. Jesse's job was moving wheelbarrows of tear-off materials across the roof and dumping them into the trash chute. As the owner's son, 17-year-old Jesse wanted to prove he could keep up and was willing to do any job the foreman threw at him.

By late afternoon, the tear-off was done and the old materials were in the trash bin. As Jesse picked up trash and other debris that had accumulated on the ground, Russ, the crew's long-time foreman, leaned over the roof edge and yelled down to Jesse to bring over a pallet of felt rolls and rig it so Russ could lift it with the hoist. It was near the end of the day, but Russ thought he could mop down a few more rolls if he could get the materials quickly. He didn't want to take the time to climb down from the roof, so he instructed Jesse to hop in the forklift and bring the pallet over.

Jesse knew how the forklift worked, but he was forbidden from driving it. Stan, his dad, had made it clear that under no circumstances was Jesse to drive the forklift until he was 18 years old and certified. Training provisions for all forklift employees in the construction industry is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA specifically states employers must certify each operator has been trained and evaluated as required.

Jesse was sure Russ knew he was not supposed to drive the forklift, but Jesse didn't want to appear afraid or unwilling to do a job. So he walked over to the forklift in the warehouse and saw the keys in the ignition.