The nail gun was fired by a colleague, penetrating the 16-year-old’s skull and brain.
A teenage apprentice has been left “terrified” after a nail was fired into his skull in a workplace accident at a Melbourne construction site.
Riley Scott, who was an employee at Topline Carpentry South East, was building a door frame at a site in Glen Waverley with another, more experienced colleague in March 2021.
The pair were facing each other at opposite ends of the door frame when the more experienced worker fired his nail gun.
It split the frame’s wooden top plate and struck Riley in the head, with the 75mm nail penetrating his skull and brain.
The 16-year-old was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital to have the nail surgically removed.
Riley was released a week later.
According to WorkSafe, it was not the only accident Riley had been involved in with the same colleague that day.
Earlier on, he had suffered a deep cut to his hand after the colleague threw an electric reciprocating saw at him to catch, instead of handing it to him.
According to Slater and Gordon, who are now representing Riley in a worker’s compensation claim, the colleague was a plumber and not a qualified carpenter.
He also had no experience with nail guns and neither incident was reported to WorkSafe.
The work safety watchdog was only notified of the incidents after Victoria Police became involved.
Riley, who is now 19, said he now feels nervous whenever he is on a worksite.
“If someone’s using a nail gun, it doesn’t matter if I’m near them, I’m terrified,” he said.
The teen, who has a permanent scar on his head, said his dad has been his biggest supporter throughout the entire ordeal.
“I don’t know what I’d do without him,” he said.
Topline Carpentry South East was sentenced in the Ringwood Magistrates Court in December 2022 after being found guilty of eight charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
One of these offences was failing to preserve the scene following both incidents.
According to WorkSafe, not only did the company not report the incidents, it also removed all its tools, bar one nail gun, from the worksite before the watchdog arrived.
Topline was fined $130,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5,715.
Riley lodged his worker’s compensation claim last month.
His lawyer, Ruby Robertson, said those involved in life-altering workplace accidents need to know financial support is out there and available, with Victoria’s WorkCover scheme a compulsory measure that covers all workers in the state.
“Unfortunately, when safety is not a priority in the workplace, or even where there is a relaxed attitude to safety, there can be serious consequences to workers,” she said.
“These types of accidents completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, and people are entitled to the support they need to heal and re-build their lives after the accident.
“Injured workers have rights to claim medical expenses and lost income for workplace-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of who is at fault.”
Riley also urged other young workers to reach out if they have been injured at work.
“I want other people to know if they’re injured to not be afraid to get help, we all need it and everyone deserves support,” he said.
According to documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Topline went into liquidation in March 2022.