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Nail Guns Trigger Surprising Number of Workplace Injuries [Infographic]

Roofer Installing Roof Shingles with Nail Gun

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More than 68% of nail gun injuries occur to workers in the construction industry. Nail gun related injuries are a serious occupational risk to workers, resulting in 37,000 emergency room visits every year.

Workplace Injuries

Within the construction industry, nail guns are used every day in building and carpentry projects that involve framing, exterior siding, flooring, and roofing. Although they increase on-the-job productivity, they send over 37,000 workers to the hospital each year. Nail gun injuries hospitalize more construction workers than any other workplace tools.

Since the introduction of pneumatic-powered nail guns in 1959, workplace injuries from these tools have increased significantly. The most frequent injuries occur to the hands. In the majority of hand injuries, nails get lodged in soft tissues, but penetration to the bones in wrists, hands, and fingers are often reported by work injury lawyers. Hand injuries account for 65% of nail gun injuries, but other serious and fatal occupational injuries have been reported in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, spinal cord, and upper and lower extremities of workers. Injuries have resulted in bone fractures, blindness, paralysis, brain damage, and death.

Most nail gun workplace injuries occur during routine use and often occur by accident due to:

  • Accidental discharge
  • Careless handling of equipment
  • Lack of proper equipment training
  • Nails that over-penetrate structural components
  • Nails that shatter or ricochet
  • Unsound building materials

All nail guns have the potential to cause serious, even fatal injuries, but guns with automatic triggers often result in unintended nail discharge. Pneumatic-powered nail guns fire at high-powered velocities of up to 1,400 feet per second. At this speed, a nail can penetrate solid concrete with very little energy, so damage to human tissues is severe.

Nail Gun Safety

To prevent workplace injuries, OSHA provides safety guidelines for workers who commonly use nail guns. The guide references pneumatic tools but also applies to nail guns powered by gas, electricity, or hybrid power sources. The safety guide emphasizes the importance of understanding different nail gun triggers and encourages all workers to check labels and instruction manuals for trigger operation.

Since a large percentage of nail gun injuries are caused by accidental discharge, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns consumers that contact trigger nail guns are susceptible to double firing which can result in sudden, unexpected injuries. Reports show that double firing guns do not give users adequate time to react and release the trigger to avoid injuries.

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