What’s the Danger?
Powered by compressed air, these tools are rightly called guns because they apply a large amount of energy to a small projectile. As such, they should be treated and handled with the same kind of respect and caution as a weapon. These tools have caused many injuries to workers’ hands and feet, and even more serious injuries to the eyes, neck, heart, and brain. They are also responsible for roughly 37,000 emergency room visits each year – 68% of these involve workers and 32% involve consumers.
7 Risk Factors for Nail Gun Injuries There are seven major risk factors that can lead to nail gun injury. Understanding them will help you to prevent injuries on your job sites
- 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
6 Steps for Supervisors By taking these steps, you can help prevent nail gun injuries from occurring:
- Supply and use full sequential trigger nail guns. Research shows the risk of injury is twice as high using contact trigger nail guns compared to sequential trigger nail guns.
- Provide training on how to safely use the tool, including what PPE should be worn.
- Set up inspection and work procedures and ensure they are followed.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls.
- Follow up on injuries and close calls and implement corrective actions.
Here are two examples of how things can go wrong when nail guns are used incorrectly:
A worker known to be fast at his job was walking along a timber framework placing a series of nails. He used one hand to hold the job and walked with the nail gun’s
trigger depressed, using the pressure on the muzzle guard to activate the tool. He nailed his hand to the wood.
Two framers were working together to lay down and nail a subfloor. One framer was waiting and holding the nail gun with his finger on the contact trigger. The other framer was walking backwards toward him and dragging a sheet of plywood. The framer handling the plywood backed into the tip of the nail gun and was shot in the back. The nail nicked his kidney, but fortunately he recovered.
10 Tips to Prevent Nail Gun Injuries To avoid nail gun injuries, share these 10 safety tips with your crew:
- Read the user’s manual – yes, it might be boring, but there’s helpful safety and maintenance info in it.
- Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection when using a nail gun. Head protection and safety-toed footwear might also be required.
- Inspect the nailer before each use – following established inspection procedures. This includes checking the air pressure before hooking it up.
- Don’t carry the tool by the hose.
- Don’t carry the tool with a finger on the trigger.
- Don’t press the trigger unless you are intending to fire.
- Never point the tool at anyone.
- Even if the tool is disconnected from the air supply or supposedly empty, it could still fire under certain circumstances. It’s also possible for a nail gun to go off without you touching the trigger.
- Make sure the tool is pointed away from your body and keep your hands out of the way.
- Remember that nails hitting the work at the wrong angle can bounce off and injure your hands.
- Put the muzzle of the tool firmly against the work piece when firing.
- Disconnect the tool from the air supply before:
- Clearing blockages, making adjustments, handing the tool to another worker or leaving it unattended
Conclusion Besides training and supervising your workers to use nail guns safely, you can prevent injuries by choosing nail guns designed for safety. These include sequential nail guns that require the nose of the tool to be pressed before the trigger is pulled. Finally, remind workers pneumatic nailers are among many kinds of equipment powered by compressed air. All these tools require caution to prevent injuries.