Nail Gun Safety: What Workers Need to Know

The growth in popularity of nail guns and other powered fasteners has seen a corresponding increase in injuries—often gruesome—associated with their use. Here’s how you can help safeguard your workers.

Yesterday’s Advisor chronicled the recent spike in nail gun-related injuries, which rose more than threefold between 1995 and 2005.

While some of those injuries stem from untrained use by “weekend warriors,” more than 60 percent of nail gun injuries occur when professional builders use the devices.

At the heart of the problem is this: When the trigger is depressed on the contact-trip style of nail gun, the gun will fire every time its nose comes into contact with a surface, whether that surface is construction material or a human body.

With the sequential-trip design, the gun’s trigger cannot be pulled until its nose has already been depressed against a surface, greatly reducing the risk of unintentional discharge.

Researchers estimate that 65 percent to 69 percent of injuries caused by using contact-trip guns could be avoided with the safer—but slower—sequential-trip design.

Whatever safety meeting you need, chances are you’ll find it prewritten and ready to use in BLR’s Safety Meetings Library on CD.  Try it at no cost or risk. Here’s how.

Nail gun manufacturers say there is nothing inherently wrong with the design or construction of their product, and that most accidents are caused by misuse. However, at least one researcher—Duke University’s Hester Lipscomb—is calling upon federal authorities to ban contact-trigger nail guns under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, which says employers have a duty to provide a workplace free of known hazards that may cause death or serious injury.

Whether contact-trip nail guns will ever be banned is an open question (they have generated a lot of litigation). But the fact remains that they are present in the workplace (and homes) now and for the foreseeable future. So what is a safety professional to do?

You’ll find materials directly on point for your nail gun safety training needs in BLR’s Safety Meetings Library. The meeting on “Powered Fastening Tools Safety” is just one of more than 400 prewritten meetings on almost every safety issue you can think of.

The meeting material in Safety Meetings Library suggests that when you inspect pneumatic tools such as nail guns before use, make sure every part is in place and works properly and that air hoses have:

  • A secure connection between the tool and hose attached, if possible, by a short wire or locking device.
  • A safety clip or retainer that keeps tool attachments from being jettisoned accidentally.
  • An excess flow valve at the air supply source to shut off air automatically if the hose breaks. It’s required for hoses over a half-inch in diameter.
  • A muzzle safety device that keeps it from shooting fasteners unless the muzzle is in contact with the work surface. It’s required for tools with an automatic fastener feed that operates at pressure of more than 100 psi.

Included with the meeting are a quiz and handout with this added advice:

  • Select the correct tool for the task and materials.
  • Use a power-actuated tool only if you’ve been trained to do so.
  • Make sure a pneumatic tool’s air compressor matches the selected tool’s power needs.
  • Inspect the tool to be sure all parts are in place and in good condition.
  • Tag and turn in any defective tool.
  • Be sure air hose connections are tight.
  • Place the air hose so it can’t be damaged or create a tripping hazard.
  • Select and use eye protection and any other needed PPE.
  • Alert other workers in the area to wear proper PPE.
  • Put up a protective screen, if available.

We challenge you to NOT find a safety meeting you need, already prewritten, in BLR’s Safety Meetings Library. Take up our challenge at no cost or risk. Get the details.

In addition, Safety Meetings Library provides these supplemental materials, for this, and for every meeting. All may be customized with your organization’s name and specifics:

  • Employee Safety Meeting Training Record
  • Safety Meeting Sign-up Sheet
  • Employee Safety Meeting Evaluation Questionnaire
  • Training Complete Certificate

A word on 10/30-hour training and updating

Safety Meetings Library also addresses the need for OSHA 10/30-hour training, with a special section on the subject. And it updates itself as long as you stay in the program. You’re periodically shipped a new CD that adds new training meetings and other material as regs or best practices change.

You can get a preview of the program by clicking the links below. But for the best look, we suggest a no-cost, no-obligation trial. Click here and we’ll arrange it for you.

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