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New OSHA/NIOSH guide discusses nail gun safety

If you go to any residential construction site either here in California or across the nation, you will more than likely see workers using nail guns for a variety of tasks from fastening shingles and attaching siding to installing framing. Whatever the purpose a nail gun is ultimately used for, it's extremely important for employers to recognize that despite their utility, nail guns present an elevated risk of serious work injuries.

In fact, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a joint publication designed to notify employers/employees of the specific hazards posed by nail guns and offer some viable solutions for preventing serious (and potentially fatal) work injuries.

Entitled "Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors," the guide offers some very interesting statistics concerning the prevalence of nail gun injuries among apprentice carpenters:

  • Two out of five suffered one nail gun injury during the first four years of training
  • One out of five suffered two nail gun injuries during the first four years of training
  • One out of ten suffered three or more nail gun injuries during the first four years of training

The hands and fingers were identified as the most likely area of the body to be injured by a nail gun, followed by the legs, knees, thighs, feet and toes.

While a complete summary of the causes of most nail gun accidents is beyond the scope of this blog entry, the NIOSH/OSHA guide did offer a list of six steps that employers may want to consider to improve workplace safety:

  1. Provide workers with nail guns that have full sequential triggers (i.e., triggers that only fire one nail at a time and only fire when the safety contact tip is pushed down and the trigger is squeezed (in that order))
  2. Provide workers with the necessary training
  3. Create work procedures that expressly deal with nail guns and nail gun safety
  4. Provide all workers with the necessary safety/protective equipment
  5. Create an atmosphere in which all nail gun injuries - and near injuries - are reported and discussed
  6. Supply the necessary medical training/supplies in the event of a nail gun accident

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/U.S. Department of Labor, "Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors" Sept. 21, 2011

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