An investigation in the UK found nail gun injuries typically occur from one of these five situations:
- Gun angle or operator position that puts the worker in the line of fire
- Performing maintenance without disconnecting the airline / power source
- Carrying a gun with a finger on the trigger
- Holding the workpiece too close to the nailing area
- A deliberate act of shooting another worker
NIOSH has identified seven major risk factors that can lead to nail gun injuries:
- Unintended nail discharge from double fire
- Unintended nail discharge from knocking the safety contact with the trigger squeezed
- Nail penetration through lumber work piece
- Nail ricochet after striking a hard surface or metal feature
- Missing the work piece
- Awkward position nailing
- Bypassing safety mechanisms
Practical steps employers can take to promote nail gun safety:
- 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.
- Straight Talk About Nail-Gun Safety comic-format booklet (pdf)
- NIOSH nail gun safety page
- OSHA nail gun safety page
- CDC article on nail gun safety
- Browse Construction Safety signs and PPE Safety signs at ComplianceSigns.com.