Since joining the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 2000, Matt Gillen has worked to coordinate and plan a variety of construction safety research efforts while also building stronger relationships between scientists and the construction industry.

"Looking out for the well-being of construction workers is second nature to him," says Christine Branche, principal associate director of NIOSH and director of the agency's Office of Construction Safety and Health. "Regardless of the topic, Matt wants to make sure the effects on worker safety are part of the conversation," she adds.

Across diverse, complex and occasionally contentious issues, Gillen has consistently sought to develop comprehensive, effective, science-based alternatives to promote construction-site safety and safeguard workers on the job.

For example, as the NIOSH representative to the newly rechartered OSHA Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health, Gillen helped lead the development of new guidance for the use of nail guns in residential construction. According to government records, homebuilding accidents are the primary cause of the 37,000 annual emergency-room visits related to nail-gun injuries.

Drawing on the input of equipment manufacturers, researchers, and health and safety professionals, the guidance provides practical advice on the use of nail guns to enhance safety without compromising the tool's efficiency features, which have boosted contractor productivity.

Among other initiatives, Gillen also served as primary author of a NIOSH report on integrating safety and health into green-building credits, which Branche says was a key first step toward eventually making safe construction sites synonymous with sustainable building.

"Matt embodies the true spirit of collaboration, bringing the best minds together to tackle important issues," Branche adds. "He doesn't seek credit for making these things happen. Matt just wants things to move forward."