A nail gun is one of the most common tools used at ICG. And while it has the impressive capability to fire a 3-inch nail over 100 miles an hour, the CDC also cites that “Nail guns are a leading cause of injury among residential carpenters and responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year, of which 60% are occupationally-related.”
Minimizing the Risk
It is no surprise then, with nail guns being the culprits of one of the most common injuries in the industry, that we work to minimize risk in this area. We believe that it is so important to have training on nail guns for not only operators but also for anyone who may find themselves around one in any fashion. Nail gun safety is part of the core safety training at ICG. Every employee must have training on operating a nail gun before beginning work.
Training nail gun safety begins with teaching every employee about the various types of nail guns used at ICG and what application(s) each is used for. This is followed by how to properly load each nail gun, regular maintenance, and the general safety precautions required to effectively use a nail gun. The training program starts at the most basic level, to teach a novice not only how to use a nail gun but also covers ways a nail gun may be misused or mishandled and why those actions pose a threat to everyone’s safety.
Common Nail Gun Injuries
Our training aims to inform employees of associated risks and best practices to avoid and eliminate unnecessary hazards that training can help prevent. For instance, knowledge of bump fire triggers versus sequential fire triggers is a good starting point to educate employees on the differences and how to recognize which trigger type or setting a particular nail gun is equipped with. With this knowledge gleaned, employees are then equipped and empowered to knowledgeably make the ICG-preferred decision to only use sequential fire triggers whenever possible. While this is not necessarily an option on all models and types of nail guns, the abatement of any unnecessary risk wherever possible is worth the time-in in training employees at the outset. Nonetheless, in the instances where a particular model is not equipped with an alternative trigger or trigger setting and can only be operated in a bump fire mode, it remains important for employees to be trained on how to safely operate a nail gun with this trigger type.
Other common, preventable injuries are resultant of a nail gun being discharged without adequate ‘muzzle awareness.’ In other words, when a user fires a nail gun without considering what is down-range or behind the substrate being nailed and the associated trajectory of the nail. A highly common instance of this hazard occurs when toe nailing and the operator is angling the nail gun towards him or herself. If the nail were to miss the lumber or ricochet, the employee would regrettably become the target. An easy way to avoid such an injury is to show the proper way to hold a nail gun in relation to the material, yourself, and other workers in the area.
Nail Gun Education
In addition to the safety aspect of the training, there is also a requisite to know what types of nails are used with each type of nail gun. At ICG we use everything from framing nails and finish nails to paper, plastic, and metal collated nails and cap nails. An easy way to jam a nail gun is by putting the wrong nail into a nail gun. Just as important as the nails are, so are the types of nail guns for the job. Nails are a large part of making a house or condo structurally sound and even the selection of nail length and gauge can have a tremendously large impact on the shear strength of a connection. The correct quantity and type of nails are an important aspect of every job and application. Therefore, teaching on fastener types is encompassed in the training that every employee must complete. While not every accident can be avoided, knowledge of the tools and materials being used is one way that they can be prevented.