Nail Gun Safety – Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to protect myself from injury by a nail gun?
Use a nail gun equipped with a sequential trigger. Studies show that the use of nail guns equipped with sequential triggers can reduce injuries by half. If you do not work in the construction industry, and you are working on a small project, consider using a hammer. If you do use a nail gun, read the owners manual from cover to cover to understand its operation. Comply with all recommendations regarding safe work practices. Always wear protective equipment including safety glasses, ear protection and heavy work gloves.
Where can I find information on how to operate a nail gun safely?
If you are a worker, the Nail Gun Hazard Safety Alert, a printed card in English and Spanish, provides vital tips for protecting yourself from nail gun injuries. See resources provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on nail gun safety. Always use personal protective equipment (PPE) including protections for the eye and face.
Do I need a nail gun?
If you work as a residential carpenter — a professional where productivity and efficiency affect the bottom line, a nail gun may be an essential tool for framing, roofing and other construction work. But if you are a weekend hobbyist with little or no experience using a nail gun, ensure you read your instruction manual; wear protective gear including safety glasses, ear protection and work gloves; and study safe work practices for nail guns. Sometimes the best solution may be even simpler and safer: consider using a hammer instead of a nail gun.
What is a contact trigger? What is a sequential trigger?
Nail guns equipped with contact trip trigger mechanisms allow the tool to fire any time that both the trigger and the nose of the gun — the contact element — are depressed. The trigger can be held down to allow bump or bounce nailing.
Sequential triggers require the nose of the gun be depressed before the trigger is pulled. This mechanism helps prevent an inadvertent discharge of nails.Contact and sequential triggers look identical. If you can “bump nail” by holding the trigger down and bouncing the nose against a nailing surface, you are operating a nail gun equipped with contact trigger.
Which trigger is more likely to injure me: contact or sequential?
Nail guns equipped with contract trip triggers pose twice the risk of injury to operators than tools equipped with sequential triggers, according to the research, even if the operator is trained and experienced in the use of nail guns. Contact trip trigger mechanisms allow the tool to fire any time that both the trigger and the nose of the gun are depressed. The more rapid fire of guns equipped with contact triggers frequently results in injuries from accidental discharges, double firings and ricocheting nails.
Is one kind of nail gun faster to operate than another?
With nail guns, speed of operation and productivity are not the same. Researchers conducted a study that involved journeyman carpenters with an average of 13 years experience. Data showed that the worker, not the tool, accounts for most of the difference in productivity.
Who is at greater risk when using a nail gun: construction workers or home users?
In one study of nail gun injuries treated in emergency rooms, researchers discovered that about 40 percent of the injuries occurred among consumers. Obviously, nail guns are accessible to professional construction workers and home users alike. However, home users may be less likely to receive training in how to use these tools.
Are other people at a work site at risk of injury from others who are operating nail guns?
Yes. Bystanders at the work site — usually co-workers — represent almost 12 percent of reported injuries, according to the research.
What kinds of injuries occur from nail guns?
Most reported injuries involving nail gun use involved puncture wounds to fingers and hands. However, accidents with nail guns have also caused injuries to internal organs, blindness and even death.