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.
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.
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.
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.
Tools and Resources
- Construction Safety Directory Page
This website provides additional information about construction topics, resources and partners.
- NIOSHTIC-2 search results on Nail Gun
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.
Related NIOSH Journal Articles
- Revisiting Pneumatic Nail Gun Trigger Recommendations
- Serious injury and fatality investigations involving pneumatic nail guns, 1985-2012
- A biomechanical assessment of hand/arm force with pneumatic nail gun actuation systems
- Finger tendon travel associated with sequential trigger nail gun use
- Residential Building Stakeholders: Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Nail-Gun Injury Risks and Prevention
Other Key Resources and Publications
- Nailing Down the Need for Nail Gun Safety: CDC Feature Story
- Nail Gun Safety – Occupational Safety & Health Administration
- Nail Gun Safety: The Facts
- Nail-gun injuries treated in emergency departments-United States, 2001-2005
MMWR, April 13, 2007/56(14):329-332
- Jayakumar V et al. Design and Evaluation of Noise Control Measures for a Pneumatic Nail Gun. Proceedings of NOISE-CON 2013, Denver August 26-28 2013