Nail guns optimize construction and residential tasks, boosting productivity. However, nail guns also contribute to a considerable number of worksite injuries per year. The Occupational Safety and Health Association, or OSHA, provides specialized nail gun safety criteria to prevent nail gun-related injuries. Many worksites regularly overlook or fail to report nail gun injuries.
It’s important for contractors and construction workers to learn the fundamental safety practices that prevent nail gun injuries. It’s also essential for businesses to learn how to conduct the appropriate training for safely operating a nail gun on a worksite. Read the following outline as an introductory guide to OSHA’s nail gun safety requirements and learn about nail gun worker training, PPE, and proper nail gun procedures.
Nail Gun Hazards
Nail guns and other variations of power staplers have replaced hammers in wood frame construction. Nail guns have powerful mechanisms that are easy to operate and increase the productivity of nailing tasks. The ease of using nail guns also increases the number of nail gun hazards and related injuries on a worksite.
The most common nail gun injuries are puncture wounds to the hands and fingers. However, there are fatal nail gun-related injuries due to a nail gun producing velocities as high as 1,400 feet per second.
It’s common for workers and contractors to fail to document nail gun-related injuries, and some injuries never receive medical attention. Nail gun-related injuries hospitalize more construction and contract workers than any other tool-related injury. Read on to understand different types of nail gun-related injuries.
- Hands and fingers: Over half of reported nail gun injuries occur on the hands and fingers. A quarter of these reported injuries include structural damage to bones, joints, nerves, and tendons.
- Legs and lower body: Nail gun-related injuries occurring to the lower body affect the legs, knees, thighs, feet, and toes.
- Arms, neck, head, and trunk: The least common but still reported nail gun-related incidents include injuries to the head, neck, trunk, and forearms.
Some worksites have reported fatal nail gun injuries to the head, neck, eye, spinal cord, and internal organs. Even non-fatal injuries to these areas can result in blindness, paralysis, bone fractures, and permanent brain damage.
The following information summarizes several factors that cause nail gun injuries on a worksite.
- Blowout: The nail penetrates the material and ricochets off the underlying material.
- Unintentional fire: A worker pulls the nail gun trigger on a single contact from knocking against a person or other material, causing the gun to discharge the nail.
- Accidental double fire: A double fire occurs when using a nail gun in an awkward spot, which can encourage a misfire or make it difficult for the worker to react.
- Missing the work target: The nail gun fires too quickly to accurately meet the target.
Nail Gun Training
Conducting nail gun training is the best preventative action for avoiding nail gun injuries on a worksite. Both new and experienced workers should undergo nail gun safety training to learn about the causes of nail gun-related injuries and risk mitigation steps. The standard guidelines surrounding nail gun training recommend the following topics to discuss.
- Explain the safety procedures to follow if a nail gun malfunctions.
- Describe how nail guns operate and the various types of trigger mechanisms.
- List the main cause of nail gun injuries and how they vary between different triggers.
- Provide hands-on training with the devices used on a jobsite and go over how to load the nail gun, fire the nail gun, and operate the air compressor.
Additional nail gun training should also cover the company’s nail gun work procedures, per OSHA’s nail gun safety requirements. This training should factor in how OSHA describes proper personal protective equipment when handling a nail gun, injury reporting protocols, and first aid medical treatment.
Nail Gun Best Practices
Contractors should develop nail gun rules and procedures that address risk factors on a specific jobsite and optimize safe nail gun practices. The standard guidelines recommend these best practices to prevent nail gun-related injuries on a worksite.
- Ensure tool manuals for nail guns are available on the jobsite.
- Go over the manufacturer’s tool labels and instructions.
- Always shoot a nail gun away from oneself and away from other personnel.
- Use a hammer or positive placement hammer when nailing irregular lumber.
- Set up operations that prevent workers from being in the line of nail gun fire operated by other workers.
- Check lumber surfaces to ensure there are no knots, nails, hangers, or other materials that could trigger recoil or ricochet.
- Keep hands at least 12 inches away from the nailing point during placement work. Provide the option of using clamps or braces instead of allowing workers to use their hands.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to the equipment worn by workers to minimize exposure to the hazards that cause workplace injuries. Nail gun safety requires special gear for workers to protect them from nail gun injuries on residential construction sites. It’s also recommended employers provide several pieces of personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Hard hats
- Safety shoes
- Hearing protection
- High-impact eye protection
Note: Using gloves as a form of PPE when handling nail guns is not ideal. Gloves can make handling a nail gun more difficult and increase the risk of fingers catching in the mechanism or incurring injury.
Reporting Injuries and Providing First Aid Treatment
Employers should ensure their policies and procedures encourage workers to report nail gun injuries. Reporting nail gun-related injuries ensures workers receive the proper medical treatment and helps improve nail gun safety procedures to prevent future injuries. It also helps contractors identify potential risks on a jobsite before dispatching employees on it.
Employers and personnel should receive immediate medical attention after a nail gun injury, even if the injury appears minimal. Nail gun injuries also present the risk of industrial materials embedding into the injury and causing an infection.
Staple Headquarters is proud to serve as your hub for high-quality industrial tools and the information required to safely use them. Contact Staple Headquarters today for further information on how to safely optimize your construction project today.