5 November 2004
Nail gun fatality investigation continues
The Department of Labour’s occupational safety and health service is continuing its investigation into the death of
carpenter Robert Otto in Queenstown on 1 November.
OSH investigator Murray Leighton has completed a scene examination and interviewed the people in the area at the time Mr
Otto received his fatal injuries. Mr Leighton said while some facts of the accident had been confirmed a final report
into the investigation was still some weeks away.
“I’ve established that three men were working on the construction of a large canopy on a Queenstown construction site
where Naylor Love Ltd is the principal contractor. At the time of the accident, Mr Otto and an apprentice carpenter were
working from a scissor lift on the outside of the building. A third worker was working up a ladder directly inside the
building, facing out toward the scissor lift.
“The worker on the ladder has operated a Ramset cartridge-operated nailing gun in an attempt to drive a nail through a
section of steel to secure it to some timber. A first shot was unsuccessful and a second attempt was made using a more
powerful charge. This second shot appears to have failed to penetrate the steel and the nail has deflected, hitting Mr
Otto in the head and causing the fatal head injury.”
Mr Leighton said while OSH’s investigation into this accident was ongoing, it was a timely reminder of the dangers of
this type of tool. People using powder-powered fastening tools must hold an appropriate certificate of competence, while
trainee operators must be under the direct supervision of someone holding a certificate.
“Although a certificate of competence is valid for 25 years, it’s sensible hazard management for all users to schedule
refresher training at more regular intervals.”