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OSHA: nail guns cause more workplace injuries than any other tool

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employers may be mistaking the balance between productivity gains and worker safety risks when it comes to construction equipment. According to the two safety agencies, nail guns send more people to the hospital with workplace injuries than any other construction tool.

In fact, around 37,000 Americans end up in the emergency room every year after being injured by nail guns, officials said. These injuries are so common that the agencies estimate that, over a four-year period, two out of every five residential carpentry apprentices will be injured by one.

Unfortunately, many workplaces don’t take these injuries seriously enough. Workers may not even report nail gun injuries; much less seek appropriate medical treatment through workers’ compensation. And, nearly 12 percent of workplace nail gun accidents ended up injuring co-workers and innocent bystanders, OSHA says.

Above and beyond the potential danger of standard nail guns, the agencies are particularly concerned about the multi-shot, contact-trigger variety, which continues firing until the trigger is released. According to OSHA, research has shown that simply replacing this model with a sequential-trigger model, which requires the operator to pull and release the trigger for each stud, can reduce these injuries by half.

Proper training and use of safety equipment would also reduce the injury rate. It’s essential for workers -- and do-it-yourselfers -- to carefully read the owner’s manual and fully understand how to operate the nail gun properly. The owner’s manual will also contain OSHA-approved recommendations for safe use, such as wearing safety glasses, hearing protection and heavy gloves while operating the nail gun.

Outside the workplace, OSHA has some advice for those undertaking do-it-yourself home projects: "If you do not work in the construction industry and you are working on a small project,” OSHA says, “consider using a hammer."

Source: UPI.com, "OSHA: Nail guns dangerous, send 37,000 to hospital ER," July 17, 2013