Nail guns are dangerous. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that nail guns are the leading cause of injury for professional residential carpenters. These professionals account for 37,000 emergency room visits per year because they didn’t practice proper nail gun safety measures.
If experienced professionals are at risk of injury and they use nail guns daily, the average person is also at risk.
There are a lot of safety precautions users can take to help prevent serious injury when using nail guns.
Safety in the Workplace
Contractors and business owners have a duty to protect their workers. There’s a lot that a business can do to prevent potential injuries, and this includes:
New and seasoned employees should be trained on the right way to use nail guns. These individuals will need to know:
- Business guidelines for nail gun usage.
- What equipment to wear.
- How to properly operate a nail gun.
The goal of training not only ensures that the worker knows how to properly use a nail gun, but that the individual is also trained on how to safely use a nail gun.
Employees who don’t follow the information in training are providing a risk to themselves. In the event that an employee improperly uses the nail gun and tries to sue a business for damages, showing proof of training and a violation from the employee may also protect businesses from costly settlements.
Nail Gun Procedures and Protocols
Businesses ought to provide procedures and protocols that all employees must follow when using a nail gun. This legal framework will provide protection to employees and customers to ensure that injuries are kept to a minimum.
Businesses can also make sure that reporting of near incidents are filed to adjust procedures and try to lower the risk of future injuries.
General Nail Gun Safety Measures
General safety measures are needed by both professionals and homeowners using a nail gun. The inherent danger of a nail gun requires first and foremost that a person have protective equipment when using a nail gun.
The protective equipment recommended includes:
- Safety goggles with an ANSI Z87.1 rating.
- Hard hats.
This is the equipment recommended by OSHA, but heavy-duty gloves are also recommended, especially when trying to remove jams.
Jam Safety Measures
Nail jams are common, and clearing a jam can lead to a premature discharge and serious injury. When clearing a jam, it’s important to:
- Face the barrel away from the body.
- Wear the recommended equipment above.
- Remove the nail gun’s power source.
- Try and locate a release lever.
- Never try to remove a jammed nail with your fingers.
If a jam is present, don’t try to remove the jam with your fingers. Needle nose pliers are the right choice to try and remove the nail.
Use Full Sequential Triggers
Full sequential triggers are the safest option, reducing risk of unintentional nails discharging and causing injuries. When possible, choose a nail gun that offers a full sequential trigger as an option if it’s not the standard setting of the gun.
General Safety Advice
General safety tips can go a long way in ensuring a person’s safety when using nail guns. The general safety tips recommended by professionals and OSHA are:
- Never bypass the gun’s safety measures, such as removing safety contact springs or bypassing measures that require the trigger to be repeatedly squeezed. Never tamper with a gun’s safety or try to remove the safety measures recommended by the gun’s manufacturer.
- Never keep fingers on the trigger when holding the gun unless the intent is to drive a nail. This includes keeping fingers off the trigger during general carry, too.
- Never use a non-dominant hand to use a nail gun.
- Always keep the manufacturer’s safety warnings and labels on the nail gun.
- Always check the unit’s power supply to ensure that adequate power is supplied to the nail gun before usage. Malfunctioning guns or guns that need to be repaired should not be used until it’s verified that the item has been returned to proper working condition.
- Always make sure that the power source has been disconnected when the unit is not in operation, nails are being cleared when a jam occurs or when performing maintenance on the unit.
- Keep hands at least 12 inches away from the tip of the nailer at all times.
- Keep the unit facing away from the body at all times when in operation.
- Read through the manufacturer’s provided instruction and safety manual so that the nail gun is always operated properly and as the manufacturer intended.
The users should examine the wood to ensure that no knots are present and that the nail can be driven through the wood safely. Nails should be driven in wood only when the tip of the nail gun is flush against the surface and never at an angle.
If the surface is too difficult to reach, use a hammer instead. It’s better to use a hammer and your dominant hand to ensure safety rather than use a nail gun. Recoil can also cause injuries, and the option that users have when working at face height is to reposition or use a hammer when working at head or face height.
The readjustment can help increase the safety of the user.
Nailing into a surface also requires diligence. There have been accounts where a person has tried to drive a nail into a pipe on accident or hit a gas line while using a nail gun. Ensure that the surface where the nail is being driven is safe and secure. The extra safety measure can keep a home or building from suffering additional damage and prevent potential injuries to the user.
Nail guns must have their power source removed or turned off when climbing up a ladder or when passing the unit to another person.
Trips and falls when using a nail gun can lead to extreme injuries. Move safely around obstacles and clear the workspace to ensure that no unforeseen accidents cause a nail to be driven into the body.
Always keep nail guns away from children and remove any excess nails when storing for a long period of time.