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Nail Gun Safety

Nail guns have replaced hammers in wood frame construction. They are powerful, easy to operate and boost productivity for nailing tasks. 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. Puncture wounds to the hands and fingers are most common, but more serious injuries and deaths occur using nail guns.

Construction worker using a nail gun.

All nail guns have the potential to cause serious injury. Using a nail gun with a bump or automatic trigger (also known as contact trip trigger) can result in unintended nail discharge. Other risks include lack of training, working fast and keeping the trigger squeezed when not nailing. Using a nail gun with a single shot or full sequential trigger reduces the risk of injury.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Nail Gun Injuries?

Workers can talk to their employer about nail gun safety and prevention. Employers can take several steps to prevent nail gun injuries. To learn more, refer to Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors.

  • Use full sequential trigger nail guns
  • Provide training
  • Establish nail gun work procedures
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls

Employers and workers should also seek medical attention immediately after nail gun injuries, even for hand injuries that appear to be minimal. Provide first aid and medical treatment immediately.

NIOSH Publications

Straight Talk About Nail Gun Safety
NIOSH Publication No. 2013-149 (2013)
The information in this unique comic format is based on NIOSH supported research, Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors and focus group discussions with residential building subcontractors, safety specialists and workers.
en Español

Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors
NIOSH Publication No. 2011-202 (2011)/OSHA Publication No. 3459-8-11
This publication was developed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and strives to help prevent nail gun injuries and keep construction workers and consumers safe.
en Español

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  • Page last reviewed: February 19, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 25, 2014
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