American Bar Association
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Nail Gun Safety: Important for Workers in Miami and Everywhere

Nail guns are one of the most helpful inventions in the construction industry, and they make life on construction sites much easier. Not only do nail guns shoot through surfaces that too tough to penetrate a decade ago, they also save wear and tear on the arms of construction workers. These guns concentrate a great hammering force into a single mechanized blow, and they can repeat this action rapidly. Nail guns can shoot at least two to three nails per second, and more expensive models can fire up to five nails per second.

But with all of the benefits that nail guns have, they are also a major safety risk. Frame carpenters, who are among the heaviest users of nail guns, experience a large number of nail gun accidents every year. When one considers the exorbitant amount of force that is needed to drive nails into steel and concrete, it is easy to see how a misfired nail can cause serious physical harm. Some nail guns even use an explosive charge to fire guns instead of compressed air. Studies show that these nails travel just as fast as a bullet fired from the barrel of a gun.

Therefore, a worker who is careless with a nail gun is essentially being careless with a weapon. The predominant body parts that are injured by nail guns are the hands and fingers. This may not seem like a big deal, but every person on a construction site requires the use of their hands and fingers to work. The damage caused by having a nail driven into one’s hand may render them unable to continue construction work.

Other types of nail gun injuries include back injuries, eye injuries, head and brain injuries, soft tissue injuries and even death. Many of the nails are coated with copper wiring or other materials that are hazardous to the body and can lead to blood infection upon puncture. Nail gun injuries are so common that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a nail gun safety guide to provide workers with practical steps to prevent injuries.

Injuries occur under a variety of circumstances, including gun double fires, nails which ricochet and become airborne, accidental discharges, and penetration of the receiving structure.

Lack of Proper Training

One of the main reasons why so many workers are injured is lack of proper training. Many construction workers are simply handed a nail gun and given little or no training. Studies show that the number of injuries is the lowest when training and hands-on mentoring is done. Employers often emphasize speed over safety, and nail guns are even built with a “hair trigger” so that faster work can be done.

It is important for workers to be trained on the trigger mechanisms that are built into nail guns, as this is one of the greatest causes of injuries. The most common firing mechanism for nail guns is the dual-action contact-trip trigger. This means that the manual trigger and the nose contact element must both be depressed for a nail to be discharged. There are also sequential-trip trigger guns that require the nose contact to be depressed before the manual trigger releases, and these are even safer. According to the Center for Disease Control, up to 69% of injuries from contact triggers could be prevented if workers would use the sequential-trip trigger instead.

Responsible site managers and employers make sure that any nail guns on the premises are equipped with the property safety devices, such as sequential trip triggers. Doctors throughout the United States treated about 14,800 nail gun injuries in 2005, and many of these injuries could be avoided with a few simple steps. First, workers must read the user’s manual to learn how to operate and safely use the nail gun. Secondly, workers should always examine the tool before use and check the air pressure before hooking it up. Workers should never carry the tool by the hose or with a finger on the trigger. Above all, never point the tool at anyone even if the tool is disconnected.

Safety glasses and head protection, as well as safety-toed footwear, should be worn when using the nail gun. When the worker is finished, he should disconnect the tool from the air supply before making adjustments, clearing blockage, or handing the tool to another worker. Another thing to consider is that nails shot from a nail gun can and will go through weaker surfaces like plywood, and they can and will ricochet.

At Klemick and Gampel, P.A. we make it a point to offer dedicated and experienced legal counsel to those who have been injured on construction sites in Miami and South Florida. We have protected the rights of construction workers for many years, and we know that accidents on job sites don’t just happen as much as they are caused. It is unfortunate that a majority of construction accidents occur because someone wasn’t paying attention, didn’t follow procedure, or was given responsibility that he simply wasn’t ready for.

Construction accidents almost always result in a hospital stay and serious rehabilitative therapy. It is a common fact that construction is a dangerous line of work, but proper safety procedures can help lower the risk of injury substantially. Contact our personal injury firm for a free legal consultation today to discuss your accident and the legal options available to you.

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