Nail Gun Injuries Are Common, Take Precautions
Nail guns are a great way to increase productivity on a construction job and are used extensively, especially in residential construction.
There are, however, tens of thousands of painful injuries caused annually by this equipment. For example, one study shows that two of five carpenter apprentices experienced a nail-gun injury in a four-year period.
When these injuries occur, they usually go unreported and the injured do not seek medical treatment.
Several typical risk factors include the type of trigger system and the extent of training someone receives in using nail guns.
The risk of injury from a nail gun is twice as high when using a multi-shot contact trigger instead of a single-shot sequential trigger.
Here, we provide some guidance for contractors, subcontractors and supervisors. This guidance includes information on the most common injuries and the most severe types of injuries.
Six Steps to Reduce Nail Gun Injuries
- Always use sequential trigger nail guns.
- Provide training for all employees using a nail gun.
- Provide personal protective equipment for all employees.
- Be prepared to provide first aid and medical treatment.
- Encourage employees to report injuries and be prepared to discuss them.
- Establish procedures for the use of nail guns.
There have been instances where nail gun injuries have led to death. About two-thirds of all nail gun injuries occur while workers do sheathing or framing work. Such injuries are also common in roofing and exterior siding and finishing.
Here are a few statistics on nail gun injuries:
- 2 of 5 workers received a nail gun injury within four years of training.
- 1 in 5 was injured twice.
- 1 in 10 was injured three or more times.
More than half of all nail gun injuries occur to the hands and fingers and about 25% of those involve damage to bones, nerves, joints and tendons. Legs, knees, thighs, toes and feet are also commonly injured, while injuries to forearms, wrists, head, neck and trunk are less common.
These nail gun injuries can be severe and have resulted in blindness, paralysis, bone fractures, brain damage and even death.
Why Use a Full Sequential Trigger?
A full sequential trigger is the safest mechanism for construction jobs because they reduce the risk of unintentional nail discharge and double fires. That includes injuries caused by bumping into a coworker.
It is especially important to use full sequential triggers if lumber has to be held in place by hand. This might be for fastening studs to plates, building walls and nailing blocking and installing trusses.
It is good to restrict less-experienced workers to full sequential triggers until they gain more experience. You can color-code the nail guns so workers and supervisors can readily identify which type of trigger they use.
While some contractors fear a loss of productivity if their crews use full sequential triggers, a study shows that while contact triggers are 10% faster, they only account for 1% or less of the total building time when cutting and layout are included.
That study shows that the “who” behind the nail gun had more to do with productivity than the trigger type.
Using proper steps to train employees and providing them with the safest nail guns to use can help avoid injuries.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.