Nail gun shooting takes apprentice's eye

A roof tiler has been convicted and sentenced to four months jail after shooting an apprentice with a nail-gun causing him to lose the site in one eye.
News article published

Monday 12 Sep 2011

Industries and topics
  • Construction

Joshua Bamford, now 21 of Rowsley near Bacchus Marsh, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

He’ll serve the sentence as an intensive corrections order by way of 12 hours work per week over the next four months.

WorkSafe told the court that on 27 May 2009, Bamford and other employees of a roofing company were working at a new housing estate in Melton.

Barrister Peter Matthews said the tool was used as a weapon and that the offending was not at the lower end of the spectrum.

In a record of interview Bamford admitted firing several nails at the apprentice who was up to 20 metres away.
He told WorkSafe he had been explicitly instructed by his employer never to fire the nail gun at anyone else.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said improper use of nail guns had no place in the workplace.  

“Nail-guns are high-risk / high-consequence equipment which have caused 1190 injuries which resulted in workers compensation claims over the past 10 years.

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

“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.

“If that is done, incidents from which there is no turning back will not happen,” Ms Sturzenegger said.   

The nail guns at the site were seized by WorkSafe inspectors and tested by the manufacturer and were found to be operating correctly.

The charge:
Section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Duty not to recklessly endanger persons at workplaces
A person who, without lawful excuse, recklessly engages in conduct that places or may place another person who is at a workplace in danger of serious injury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to—
(a) in the case of a natural person, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or a fine not
exceeding 1800 penalty units (currently $219,852) or both.
Workers compensation claims arising from nail guns (and related equipment) 2001/02 to 2010/11.