Nail guns are widely used in the construction industry. Due to their prevalence, construction workers often underestimate how dangerous these tools can be. Nails discharged from nail guns travel more than 100 miles per hour and can cause serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nail guns are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits each year.
Nail Guns Present Hazards and Risks
Nail guns, valued for their ease of use and ability to boost productivity, also present some hazards and risks. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns that nail guns can shoot nails that travel 150 feet per second, which is fast and powerful enough to become lodged in a body part, break bones, or even go through a worker’s hand. Workers commonly suffer nail injuries to the:
- Spinal cord
The risk of injury is twice as high when using a contact trigger, as opposed to a sequential trigger. Contact triggers allow workers to get the job done more quickly, hence their popularity on construction sites. Using an automatic, or bump fire, nail gun makes it easier to shoot a nail by accident, as they allow for the continuous firing of multiple nails.
Single shot, or sequential nail guns, require workers to push the safety tip against a work piece before shooting a single nail. Although it takes more time and skill to operate these types of nail guns, employers may wish to switch to full sequential triggers to reduce workplace nail gun injuries.
How Often Do Nail Gun Injuries Occur?
Most nail gun accidents occur in the construction industry. They can happen under several circumstances, including:
- Double fire: Contact trigger nail guns have the potential to double fire. Such unintended discharges often occur when workers are trying to nail in tight spaces or awkward positions, when there is greater risk of accidentally pushing the trigger.
- Nail penetration through a work piece: If the nail misses the lumber or penetrates through a work piece, it can cause serious injuries, such as puncture wounds. NIOSH recommends that workers keep their hands at least 12 inches away from the nailing point.
- Ricochet: Discharged nails can ricochet after striking wood or metal. Knots in wood can cause nails to change direction and shoot out, potentially injuring nearby workers. Certain types of lumber, such as laminated veneer lumber, also present ricochet risks.
- Inadequate training: When workers are not aware of the risks involved with using a nail gun, they cannot adequately safeguard themselves against injury. Employers should train workers on how to use the nail gun, inform them of how nail gun injuries occur, and always encourage safe handling.
- Accidental nail discharge: Workers should always keep their finger off the trigger when the nail gun is not in use. This can help prevent accidental nail discharge, especially if it is a contact trigger nail gun.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Suffering Nail Gun Injuries
If you need an attorney due to a nail gun injury at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.