Nail Gun Safety

Nail guns are essential tools on construction sites because they drastically increase production. Unfortunately, faster trigger options on the guns coupled with a lack of training can result in serious injuries and even death. Here’s more information on nail gun safety.

By design, nail guns release nails at a high rate of speed when the muzzle of the gun touches a surface. Pneumatic nail guns use compressed air to release these nails. The force with which nails are released from these guns can cause puncture wounds, contusions, eye injuries, and more.

Statistically, more than 50 percent of nail gun injuries are to the hands and fingers and include damage to tendons, joints, nerves, and bones. After hand injuries, the most common injuries are to legs, knees, thighs, feet, and toes. Less common injuries include those to the forearm, wrist, head, neck, and torso. The most serious nail gun injuries are those to the spinal cord, head, neck, eyes, and even to internal organs and bones. The most series injuries sustained have caused paralysis, blindness, brain damage, and death.

According to a study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (AJIM), almost half of all construction apprentices will be injured by a nail gun. Those with less than one year’s experience working with a nail gun and those who never received training on how to properly use a nail gun were the most likely to be injured in a nail gun accident. Annually, approximately 37,000 people visit emergency rooms each year as a result of nail gun injuries and 68 percent of those injuries are to construction workers.

There are several risk factors that result in injuries from nail guns:

  • Double fires which result in an unintended extra nail being discharged
  • Knocking the safety contact with the nail gun’s trigger squeezed
  • A nail that penetrations through a piece of wood
  • Nail ricochet
  • Nail missing the target
  • Awkward nailing position
  • Bypassing safety mechanisms

Employers can prevent nail gun injuries by making sure that only full sequential trigger nail guns are used; providing training to all employees regarding the use of nail guns; establishing nail gun work procedures; and making sure that personal protective equipment is available to all employees.