Pneumatic nail guns are fast and easy to use and have commonly replaced hammers as the tool of choice on residential construction job sites, but they have also created new safety hazards.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital emergency departments treated 26,900 workers for nail gun-related injuries in 2010.
Eighty-seven percent of worker emergency room nail gun injuries are puncture wounds or open wounds with an embedded object. Workers can get hit by the nail or fastener, one of the tool’s attachments, or by flying wood or concrete chips. It is also common for a nail to go through the construction material into the injured person.
Nail gun accidents are easily prevented, however, if employers and workers learn and practice proper nail gun use. Most injuries occur because of how the tool is used, not the tool itself.
Discussion with workers of the following quick tips for using nail guns safely can help reduce the risk of certain nail gun injuries:
Only operate a nail gun if you have been properly trained to do so, and read the manufacturers instructions and warnings first.
Inspect the tool before each use.
Always wear safety glasses, a hard hat and appropriate hearing protection.
Keep guards and other safety devices on nail guns working in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Always assume that the nail gun is loaded and contains fasteners.
Never carry the tool with your finger on or under the trigger; always remove your finger from the trigger when not driving nails or fasteners.
Use the nail gun as directed. For example, with a pneumatic nail gun, you should first contact the surface, and then squeeze the trigger. “Bumping” or “bouncing” the nail gun against the work surface with the trigger engaged could cause the nail gun to go off when it hits something else by accident, like your leg.
Drive nails/fasteners into the work surface only, never into materials that are too hard to penetrate.
Do not drive nails/fasteners close to the edge of the work surface, on top of other nails/fasteners or with the tool at too steep an angle, which could cause the nails/fasteners to ricochet and hurt someone.
Never point the tool at yourself or others in the work area and keep hands and feet away from the firing head during use.
Remove all nails/fasteners from the tool before connecting it to the air compressor and do not exceed the manufacturers’ recommended working air pressure rating.
Securely fasten the air hose to the tool to prevent it from becoming disconnected.
Disconnect the air before clearing jams, performing maintenance, leaving the work area or moving the tool to another location.