As with any other form of industrial equipment, a forklift hire requires extensive training, due care and attention to operate it safely, particularly in more complex working environments where you have a mix of different pieces of equipment as well as pedestrians to consider.

As a result of this, training is an ever-expanding multimedia process that not only includes hands-on training but also simulator work, in-class instruction and even safety videos that illustrate particular processes.

The vast majority of these videos are produced by professional institutions with a tone that matches the gravity and care that needs to be taken. However, some rather more infamous training videos opt for a different tactic, using humour, violence or narrative to make their point.

Possibly the most infamous training video ever made was the 2000 German short film Staplerfahrer Klaus – Der Erste Arbeitstag (Forklift Driver Klaus – The First Day on The Job), a ten-minute short film illustrating in graphic detail what can happen when a forklift is driven irresponsibly.

It was narrated by the late Egon Hoegen, a German institution that was well known for narrating road safety instructional videos, particularly the Der 7 Sinn (The Seventh Sense) series and, somewhat ironically, the German version of the popular Need for Speed series of computer games.

This gave the film the credibility and gravitas of a traditional training video, but it would not take long for its rather macabre sense of humour to take hold, and it turns what is basic and somewhat sensible forklift handling advice into a platform for macabre splatter film violence.

The film tells the story of Klaus, a newly qualified forklift driver (played by Konstantin Graudus) who has just received his license and started his first day working in a metal processing warehouse.

In what would turn out to be foreshadowing, Klaus hops straight into the cockpit without doing an all-around check of the forklift, which would, later on, cause a particularly violent incident but at the time is innocuous and not even mentioned by the narrator.

The first incident is a near-miss that was not even Klaus’ fault, where someone walks across the forklift lane and nearly gets hit.

The first major incident happens when Klaus arrives at his first job, where he is asked to lift a colleague using a pallet, which should not be done, and inevitably he falls a great height, although the film quickly cuts to an ambulance siren.

Next, a colleague leaves a knife on the edge of a consignment of boxes that Klaus otherwise safely lifts onto the top shelf, but the vibrations caused by its landing lead to the knife falling and getting stuck in the head of the colleague, although he seems more confused by the incident and heads to lunch.

Once he gets back, his lack of adequate checks leads to the forklift breaking down, but rather than reporting it to his supervisor and waiting for a specialist, a colleague offers to fix it instead, a decision that costs him his hands in one of the film’s most infamous scenes.

After this, Klaus fails to adequately secure a slippery and oversized load, which somehow manages to slice a colleague in half, and the film somewhat descends from there, with an errant look towards a female employee causing Klaus to impale another colleague holding a chainsaw.

This causes a chain reaction that causes a series of increasingly convoluted and violent deaths, all soundtracked by a somewhat upbeat piece of music and narrated by Mr Hoegen’s calm, professional tone.

As this brief synopsis would suggest, the film was not intended to be a serious course on forklift safety, but at the same time, it has been used by several instructors as a somewhat informal part of training courses in a tradition that spread out of Germany and reached across the world.

Some instructors use it as an icebreaker and to lighten what can often be a particularly serious topic by providing especially stark imagery that sticks in people’s minds.

A similar tactic is used more generally by videos such as Think About This by ERI Safety Videos, which combined legitimate safety advice with shock value gore and violence, as well as the long tradition of Public Information Films such as Killing Time, Apaches and the infamous Protect And Survive.

Forklift Driver Klaus won several film festival awards and has since cultivated a considerable following both in and out of the industrial world.

In a way, it succeeded in highlighting the vital importance of safety when handling one of the most important pieces of machinery in the modern workplace.