Worker fined after another workplace prank goes awry
A Victorian labourer has been fined for safety breaches, following yet another incident in which a worker was seriously injured as the result of a "practical joke".
Trevor Robert Domaille, a labour-hire worker placed with Flair Cabinets, pleaded guilty to breaching s25 (duties of employees) of the State OHS Act, and was fined $3000 in the Magistrates Court yesterday.
Magistrate Ian von Einem heard that in September 2011, Domaille played a practical joke on an apprentice and other workers by gluing some screws together, making them difficult to use.
When the apprentice discovered the prank and walked towards Domaille, Domaille aimed a nail gun at the apprentice and fired.
A 38-millimetre nail penetrated the apprentice's arm and fractured his humerus.
An investigation found Domaille had believed he had disconnected the nail gun's air supply line and it wouldn't fire.
Flair Cabinets was issued with an improvement notice because it did not have a system for distinguishing which air line was connected to which tool.
Magistrate von Einem described Domaille's actions as "silly", and said it was "almost beyond belief" that the apprentice was not more seriously injured.
In late 2011, another Victorian worker was handed a suspended prison sentence following a similar incident involving a nail gun.
Two weeks ago, two NSW workers were fined after a workplace "practical joke" left a colleague with burns and psychological injuries.
"Workers have very clear responsibilities to work in a safe way [and] not put others at risk, while co-workers, particularly more experienced people, need to speak up if inappropriate behaviour is going on," WorkSafe Victoria operations general manager Lisa Sturzenegger said after yesterday's decision.
"Nail guns are high-risk/high-consequence [tools] 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."