Nail Gun Safety – What To Look Out For

Nail guns are a must-have tool for trades and builders on construction sites. However, the increased popularity of them in recent years has seen nail gun injuries on the rise, causing hundreds of incidents each year—many of them requiring medical treatment.

Since January 2019 there have been 107 reported incidents of workers who had been injured by a framing nail gun in construction—most commonly resulting in impalement or puncture to the body. It’s likely many more incidents have occurred and have not been reported.

“Since January 2019 there have been 107 reported incidents of workers who had been injured by a framing nail gun in construction.”

While there are many factors that contribute to a nail gun injuries, the common trend across many of these incidents is the gun being set to ‘bump-fire’ rather ‘single-shot’ mode. So, why is ‘bump-fire’ causing so many issues?

Hazards of ‘Bump-Fire’

Nail guns that are set to ‘bump-fire’ mode will automatically fire while the trigger is depressed, and the gun’s contact tip is pushed against an object.

This has led to workers shooting themselves, or their co-workers in the arms, hands, feet, or legs and in some incidents in the head, when the contact tip has hit a body part.

To reduce the potential for accidental discharge during use:

  • nail guns should be in ‘single-shot’ mode
  • consider disabling the ‘bump-fire’ mode on existing guns to reduce the risk of accidental discharge
  • do not use ‘bump-fire’ nail guns (including those that have a switchable trigger mechanism) if workers are required to climb ladders or other elevated areas with a loaded nail gun
  • train workers in the safe use and operation of nail guns
  • ensure inexperienced operators, such as apprentices and trainees, are supervised by a competent person when using nail guns.
  • regularly inspect and maintain nail guns and associated equipment to ensure they are in good working order and safe to use.

If you or your workers use nail guns, please read WorkSafe’s guidelines on how to help prevent injuries at work from nail guns.

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