OSHA, NIOSH Hammer Home the Importance of Nail Gun Safety

Sept. 21, 2011
According to a new OSHA and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidance document focusing on nail gun safety, two out of five residential carpenter apprentices incurred a nail gun injury during their 4-year training period. The guidance strives to help prevent nail gun injuries and keep construction workers safe.

OSHA and NIOSH developed the guidance, Nail Gun Safety – A Guide for Construction Contractors, to outline the common causes of nail gun injuries and provide steps employers and workers can take to avoid injury. The guidance is slated for residential home builders and construction contractors, subcontractors and supervisors.

“Nail guns are used every day on many construction jobs – especially in residential construction. They boost productivity but also cause tens of thousands of painful injuries each year,” the document states, adding that these injuries often are not reported and employees often do not receive medical treatment.

While nail guns are easy to operate and can increase productivity, they also can cause internal and external bodily injuries, according to OSHA. These injuries occur as a result of unintended nail discharge; nails that bounce off a hard surface or miss the work piece and become airborne; and disabling the gun’s safety features, among other causes.

The guidance outlines six steps to prevent nail gun injuries:

1. Use full sequential trigger nail guns;
2. Provide training;
3. Establish nail gun work procedures;
4. Provide PPE;
5. Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls; and
6. Provide first aid and medical treatment.

“Nail gun injuries are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. In some cases, workers have died from their injuries,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. “This document will help construction employers make necessary changes to improve nail gun safety and protect their workers from preventable injuries and death.”

The guidance can be downloaded as a PDF.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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