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The occurrence of nail gun injuries at work

Contractors are able to complete nailing tasks quicker with nail guns than hammers, but accidents can occur. Every year, there are about 37,000 nail gun-related visits to emergency rooms in the United States, 68 percent of which involved workers. This is why Minnesota construction workers need to be aware of the prevalence of nail gun injuries and how they usually happen.

Residential construction workers most often are the ones to suffer nail gun injuries. These accidents happen the most during sheathing and framing work. According to a study, 40 percent of carpenter apprentices with four years of training are injured while using nail guns, and 20 percent are injured twice, while 10 percent are injured three or more times. More than 50 percent of nail gun injuries occur to the fingers and hands, and 25 percent of these injuries involve damage to the bones, joints, tendons and nerves. Other common nail gun injuries occur to the legs, thighs, knees, toes and feet, while injuries less commonly occur to the wrist or forearm, trunk, neck and head. Some nail gun injuries cause paralysis, brain damage, blindness and death.

Nail gun injuries can happen when the gun double fires, which is most common with contact trigger nailers. An unintended discharge may also happen if the safety contact is knocked while the worker is squeezing the trigger. Sometimes the nail passess through the workpiece, either hitting the worker's hand or becoming airborne and hitting another worker. Other times, the worker might miss the target with the tip of the nail gun, resulting in an airborne nail.

A worker who is injured in a workplace accident involving a nail gun is likely to be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Those whose claims are denied or disputed often benefit by obtaining the assistance of an attorney during the appeals process.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Nail Gun Safety", accessed on March 1, 2015

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