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A 49 year old former forklift operator was today awarded more than $1.5 million by a District Court judge following a workplace explosion in 2006.

Simon Brinkley was severely burnt when an explosion erupted while he was operating a 42 tonne forklift at P&O Ports in Fremantle on April 6, 2006.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Joel Schneider, who manages the firm’s Joondalup office, said his client was awarded the payment following a six day trial.

He said the judge awarded his client $160,000 for pain and suffering and $1.37 million for items such as lost wages, superannuation, medical expenses and domestic assistance.

“Simon sustained burns to between 30 and 40 per cent of his body and one of his legs amputated below the knee because of the injuries he sustained,” Mr Schneider said.

“He has undergone numerous operations, treatments and physiotherapy since the accident, many of which have been painstaking.”

“He had only started working there a couple of months before the accident happened, but he had loved the job.”

Mr Schneider said he regretted that the defendants had made it necessary to take the case to court.

“There was an opportunity to resolve this matter about 12 months ago and my client could have avoided the ordeal of a trial. The situation was that Simon had exhausted his workers’ compensation entitlements, as he was allowed under Western Australia law, and it would have been more to his benefit to been adequately compensated 12 months earlier.”

During the six day trial, the court heard how the accident happened while Mr Brinkley was unloading a container from a trailer at 8.30pm on April 6. The court heard how the forklift effectively exploded into flames after a broken hydraulic line hit the hot engine.

Mr Brinkley was taken to Fremantle Hospital after the accident and remained in the intensive care unit until April 23, 2006 and was then shifted to the RPH’s burns unit.

Mr Schneider said Mr Brinkley has been supported by the Transport Worker Union (TWU) throughout the ordeal.