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Nail Gun Safety 101

Nail guns are powerful, easy-to-use tools that can save construction workers many hours on a job site. Unfortunately, what makes a nail gun so simple and efficient is what also makes it dangerous. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nail gun injuries send approximately 37,000 workers to the emergency room every year. About half of the accidents are puncture wounds to the hands and fingers, and many are a result of unintentional nail gun discharge.

Nail gun safety should be practiced every single day at a job site. To minimize your risk of a nail gun accident, use these tips and guidelines:

  1. Read the precautions and warnings listed in the manual. Because every nail gun is unique, manuals should be readily available in the construction zone.
  2. For most control, operate the nail gun using your dominant hand.
  3. Use a sequential-trip trigger nail gun. It is the safest trigger mechanism because a nail is fired only when controls are activated in a specific order. To fire a second nail, the process is repeated.
  4. Wear personal protective equipment—after all, it’s required by OSHA. For construction workers, that includes hard hats, eye protection and hearing protection.
  5. Make the habit of never pointing the nail gun at anyone, even if it is disconnected. Only point the nail gun at the work material.
  6. Don’t press the trigger unless the nose of the gun is pressed against the work material. Also, try not to hold your finger against the trigger when you are carrying the nail gun or having a conversation with a co-worker.
  7. Don’t attempt to fix any issues such as a jam with your nail gun while it is connected to the air supply.
  8. Keep a distance between your free hand and the nail gun. When possible, use a clamp or brace instead of your hand for reinforcement.
  9. Avoid nailing dense material or material that has metal. In these instances, nails can ricochet. Inspect the surface you are working with for knots or other characters that can prevent the smooth insertion of a nail.
  10. If you become aware of a broken or malfunctioning nail gun, remove it from the worksite immediately.