Worker pleads guilty over nail gun incident

A worker was convicted and fined at the Wodonga Magistrates’ Court over an incident where he accidentally shot an apprentice with a nail gun, injuring his arm.

The 34-year-old worker pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others at the workplace. He was ordered to pay $3000 in monthly instalments of $200.

WorkSafe investigation revealed that the worker fired a 38mm long nail into the third-year apprentice’s arm. The nail penetrated the victim’s bone and he had to undergo surgery to remove it. The victim was able to return to work on restricted duties for five weeks after the surgery.

Magistrate Ian Von Einem said the worker’s action was “silly”.

“In fact it’s almost beyond belief. It’s lucky the young man wasn’t more seriously injured. The thought of a nail gun being fired into one’s arm sends shivers down one’s spine,” said Magistrate Einem.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said that improper use of nail guns was unacceptable in the workplace.

“Nail guns are high-risk/ high-consequence equipment which have resulted in 1190 claims reported to WorkSafe over the past 10 financial years, that’s about two each week.

“They are powerful and can help get work done more quickly, but the consequences if they are not used correctly can be extremely serious.”

She also said that a zero-tolerance approach should be implemented to workplace pranks which can cause serious injury and potential death.

“Everyone has a responsibility to ensure their workplace is as safe as practicable and employers need to set an example that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.

“Employers and supervisors have clear responsibilities to ensure equipment is well-maintained and that the people using them are trained and have a very clear idea of what can happen through misuse.

“Workers have very clear responsibilities to work in a safe way, not put others at risk while co-workers, particularly more experienced people, need to speak up if inappropriate behaviour is going on,” said Ms Struzenegger.

More information on preventing workplace injuries and workers compensation matters can be accessed through the WorkSafe Victoria website.

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