WorkSafe fumes at viral excavator ride video

OFFICIALS at WorkSafe B.C. say they're not amused after a video of a construction worker swinging from an excavator bucket by a harness as if on an amusementpark ride went viral on the Internet this week.

"We've looked at it," said Al Johnson, regional director of WorkSafe B.C. responsible for construction. "We certainly do not condone this activity on any work site."

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The video, supposedly filmed at a house construction site in West Vancouver and uploaded to YouTube three years ago, gained sudden notoriety this week after it was mentioned on the Ellen talk show and posted on several websites including Gawker and Tastefully Offensive.

It features a construction worker who attaches himself to a harness, straps that to the bucket of an excavator, then goes for a ride as the excavator operator swings the machine around in circles.

Johnson said the video came to his attention soon after it was featured on Ellen. "It's totally improper behaviour," said Johnson. "It's obvious this person had little or no regard for health and safety."

Johnson said the actions in the video break numerous worksite regulations - everything from safe operation of an excavator to rules prohibiting "horseplay" on a worksite.

"What starts out as a prank often ends up in tragedy," he said. Johnson said any number of things could have gone wrong: The excavator could have tipped over; the worker at the end of the harness could have hit something; or the strap or harness buckle could have broken, causing the man to fly off at high speed.

Johnson said he's especially concerned that someone might try to copy the prank - or do something even more dangerous.

"That's part of my concern," he said. "That somebody's going to try to upstage this." Johnson added if anyone comes forward and identifies the worker, "we'll follow up on this."

By the end of the week, the video had been viewed on YouTube hundreds of thousands of times.

Comments on the video appeared mixed, with some saying it looked like more fun than the rides at Playland.

One viewer described the stunt as "Darwin's award waiting to happen."

jseyd@nsnews.com

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