Nail Gun Injuries: June 2021 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What can I do to reduce the potential for nail gun injuries in the workplace?

Answer: According to OSHA “Nail gun injuries are common – one study found that 2 out of 5 residential carpenter apprentices experienced a nail gun injury over a four-year period”. The most common injuries are puncture wounds to the hands and fingers but there can be more serious injuries and deaths that could occur using nail guns.  The following basic steps can help reduce the potential for these injuries:

  1. Consider restricting inexperienced employees to full-sequential trigger nail guns when starting out. Full-sequential firing is considered the safest option, also called single-shot firing; full-sequential is ideal for applications such as framing and carpentry, where precision is more important than fastening speed.  Full-sequential firing is slower than bump firing.  Best Practice: color-code the nail guns so that the type of trigger can be readily identified by workers and supervisors.
  2. The safety on the nail gun relies on two basic controls:  a finger trigger and a contact safety tip located on the nose of the gun.
  3. Require proper PPE for your employees such as, safety shoes high Impact eye protection, safety glasses or goggles marked ANSI Z87.1 and hearing protection
  4. Employers should ensure that their policies and practices encourage reporting of nail gun injuries. Reporting ensures that employees get medical attention and it also helps contractors to identify unrecognized job site risks that could lead to additional injuries if not addressed.
  5. Both new and experienced workers can benefit from safety training to learn about the causes of nail gun injuries and specific steps to reduce them. Be sure that training is provided in a manner that employees can understand.

Additional nail gun safety tips:

  • Follow all manufacturer’s safe operating instructions when using a nail gun, handling & storage.
  • Ensure proper training on nail guns is conducted.
  • Ensure the tool meets all applicable OSHA guarding standards.
  • They can generate noise up to 120 dBA, hearing protection is required.
  • Keep your fingers away from the trigger when not driving nails. Do not press the trigger unless you are intending to fire.
  • Do not point the nail gun at anyone, even if it is disconnected from the air supply or supposedly empty.
  • Keep hands clear of the discharge area while firing and make sure the nail gun is pointed away from your body.
  • Place the muzzle of the nail gun firmly against the work piece when firing.
  • Inspect the power source, the nails, the trigger, and safety contact before use.
  • Always conduct prior inspections of the nail gun.  Make sure the nose guard is in working order and check the air pressure before hooking it up.
  • Do not carry the nail gun by the hose or the cord or with a finger on the trigger.
  • Disconnect the tool from the air supply before clearing blockages, adjusting, handing the nail gun to another worker or leaving it unattended.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.