Nail guns are commonly found on construction sites and account for a high number of hand and foot injuries every year. Many of these injuries occur as workers are climbing ladders, and most are attributed to multi-shot contact trigger nail guns. While hand and foot injuries are the most commonly reported injuries, there are multiple recorded cases of nail gun injuries to the skull.
OSHA reports 37,000 emergency room visits for nail gun injuries each year.
Nail guns are powerful pneumatic tools. These injuries can cause ligament damage, tissue damage, bone damage, and serious infection. Head injuries can lead to blindness, deafness, mental impairment, paralysis, and death.
It is imperative that carpenters and construction workers know how to safely operate nail guns. The full sequential trigger nail gun is the safest available, as this trigger requires a specific sequence of activation controls to discharge. The safety tip must be firmly pressed against a surface and the trigger must be squeezed. The trigger must be released and reactivated for the gun to discharge another nail. There is no automatic discharge of nails without squeezing the trigger for each nail.
Contact trigger guns, on the other hand, will fire when the controls are activated in any order. Thus, the user can squeeze the trigger and then depress the contact against the surface to discharge a nail, or the user can first depress the contact against a surface, and then squeeze the trigger. If the user continues to hold the trigger in the squeezed/activation position, a nail will discharge each time the contact is depressed against a surface. This is known as bump-firing.
Single sequential trigger nail guns operate similar to the full sequential, in that the controls must be activated in a specific order. The difference between these nail guns is that the single sequential trigger is that the contact does not have to be moved and re-depressed against the surface to discharge another nail; rather, only the trigger must be released and reactivated to discharge sequential nails. This trigger does not allow bump-firing of nails.
The single actuation trigger nail gun operates by pushing the safety contact, squeezing the trigger, and depressing the contact tip against a surface. Multiple nails can be discharged by releasing the trigger, moving the tool, and squeezing the trigger again, without releasing the safety contact tip.
Workers are frequently injured as a result of double-fire or unintended discharge of a nail (unintended sequential discharge of a nail or accidental contact of the tip with a surface), puncture resulting from penetration of a nail through a piece of lumber, ricochet of a nail off a knot in the wood or contact with some other hard surface, and even missing the intended target altogether. Construction workers often find themselves manipulating around tight corners and awkward angles, which can lead to injury.
Proper training, mandatory PPE (including hard hats), and established nail gun work procedures are critical in protecting your construction crew. Nail guns are a valuable tool at the work site, but pose a high degree of risk and require skill for safe operation. Use the right tool for the job, but be knowledgeable, be alert, and be prepared.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.