Frequently Asked Questions

Are nail guns dangerous?

What can I do to protect myself from injury by a nail gun?

Where I can find information on how to operate a nail gun safely?

Do I need a nail gun?

What is a contact trigger? What is a sequential trigger?

Which trigger is more likely to injure me: contact or sequential?

Is one kind of nail gun faster to operate than another?

Can I tell by looking at a nail gun what kind of trigger it has?

Can I change the type of trigger on a nail gun?

Who is at greater risk of injury when using a nail gun: construction workers or home users?

Are other people at a work site at risk of injury from others who are operating nail guns?

How many people do nail guns injure?

What kinds of injuries occur from nail guns?

Who published this Web site and what stake do they have in the use of nail guns?

 

 

Are nail guns dangerous?

Healthcare practitioners in emergency rooms across the United States treat nearly 40,000 nail gun injuries every year. In residential carpentry, injuries from nail guns are the most common “struck by” injury. These events account for approximately 14 percent of OSHA recordable injuries among these workers. People who operate nail guns are not the only ones at risk of injury. Bystanders — most often co-workers — represent almost 12 percent of all who are injured by nail guns.

 

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 I can find information on how to operate a nail gun safely?

Explore the rest of this Web site. See resources produced by Center for Construction Research and Training. 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. The Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ECLOSH) offers printed and Web-based materials and videos including “Nail Guns: Injuries, Productivity and Recommendations,” and much more. See resources provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on nail gun safety. Always use personal protective equipment (PPE) including protections for the eye and face.

Industry organizations including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Staple, Nail and Tool Association (ISANTA) also provide information about nail guns, trigger mechanisms and operator safety.

 

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, 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.

Can I tell by looking at a nail gun what kind of trigger it has?

The two triggers look alike. If you can “bump nail” by holding the trigger down and bouncing the nose against a surface, you are using a nail gun with a contact trigger.

 

Can I change the type of trigger on a nail gun?

No regulations exist that require that sequential triggers be used, although research data show their use is linked to far fewer nail gun injuries. Even when manufacturers ship nail guns with sequential triggers, a contact trigger may be included in the box. Often manufactures will change a trigger for you. You should ask for a sequential trigger.

 

Who is at greater risk of injury 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. This was a three-fold increase in less than 15 years. 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.

 

How many people do nail guns injure?

Healthcare practitioners in emergency rooms across the United States treat nearly 40,000 nail gun injuries every year. Bystanders — most often co-workers — represent almost 12 percent of all who are injured by nail guns. Many more injuries are treated elsewhere, or sometimes, not treated at all.

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.

 

Who published this Web site and what stake do they have in the use of nail guns?

Hester Lipscomb is research scientist who has more than 15 years experience studying the impact of the work place on people from a broad range of industries. She is a leading expert on nail gun injuries. James Nolan and Dennis Patterson are union carpenters affiliated with the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity. Together they have more than 60 years experience in construction and 10 years in worker safety research.