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April 20, 2015

Safety Tip: Preventing Nail Gun Accidents

Nail guns are powerful, easy to operate and boost productivity for nailing tasks. They are also responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year. Here are some tips to help keep workers safe while using nail guns. 

An investigation in the UK found nail gun injuries typically occur from one of these five situations:

    Disconnect before servicing
  1. Gun angle or operator position that puts the worker in the line of fire
  2. Performing maintenance without disconnecting the airline / power source
  3. Carrying a gun with a finger on the trigger
  4. Holding the workpiece too close to the nailing area
  5. A deliberate act of shooting another worker

NIOSH has identified seven major risk factors that can lead to nail gun injuries:

  1. Unintended nail discharge from double fire
  2. Unintended nail discharge from knocking the safety contact with the trigger squeezed
  3. Nail penetration through lumber work piece
  4. Nail ricochet after striking a hard surface or metal feature
  5. Missing the work piece
  6. Awkward position nailing
  7. Bypassing safety mechanisms

Practical steps employers can take to promote nail gun safety:

Hard hat, safety glasses, safety shoes required in this area at all times
  • Use full sequential trigger nail guns - This trigger reduces the risk of unintentional nail discharge and double fires, including injuries from bumping into co-workers.
  • Provide training - Both new and experienced workers can benefit from safety training to learn about the causes of nail gun injuries and specific steps to reduce them.
  • Establish nail gun work procedures - Develop your own nail gun work rules and procedures to address risk factors.
  • Provide PPE - Safety shoes to help protect workers’ toes are typically required by OSHA on residential construction sites. Hard hats, high-impact eye protection and hearing protection are also recommended.
  • Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls -  Many nail gun injuries go unreported, which means workers don't get necessary medical attention.
  • Provide first aid and medical treatment - Bone fractures, infection and further damage from incorrect nail removal are common issues with nail gun injuries.

Take a look at your nail gun practices and use these tips and resources to improve safety on your job sites.

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