Nail guns are among the most frequently used tools at commercial and residential construction sites due to their ability to increase worker productivity. Despite their ease of use, nail guns present unique safety risks for construction workers. Each year, over 37,000 nail gun accidents result in hospital emergency room visits for injuries ranging from lost fingers to death.
Puncture wounds to fingers and hands are the most common injuries resulting from nail gun accidents. All nail gun hand injuries should receive medical attention and be reported to contractors when they occur. A penetrating nail in the hand can damage soft muscle tissue and bones leading to permanent injuries and disfigurement of the hand. Extracting a nail from a hand or finger often requires surgery and may result in the need for additional rehabilitation or occupational therapy. The penetration of a nail into the hand or finger may also result in infection depending on the type of construction materials being used.
Nail gun accidents often occur from defective or poorly maintained power tools. When this is the case, the injured party may be able to recover compensation through a third party liability claim. Compensation obtained this way would be in addition to (and may be significantly higher than) what an injured worker may receive though an employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance.
Nail gun users should familiarize themselves with the proper handling of nail gun equipment prior to use. Some of the most common tips for using nail guns include:
Sequential trigger nail guns are generally safer to use as the risk of getting injured by accidentally making contact with the nail gun is reduced. Contact nail guns have a bump or automatic trigger, which can unexpectedly release extra nails resulting in serious injuries. Sequential nail guns produce a single nail. All nail gun equipment should be maintained and inspected periodically to make sure it is functioning properly before use.
Nail gun users should undergo proper training before operating a nail gun. Hands-on training on loading the nail gun, operating the nail gun’s air compressor, firing the nail gun, and positioning the lumber should be made available to all construction workers.
Both NIOSH and OSHA have created resources for construction workers to help prevent nail gun accidents at construction sites. This includes the publication of the pamphlets “Straight Talk About Nail Gun Safety” for construction workers and “Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Contractors” for construction site supervisors. Construction workers should follow safety guidelines by wearing personal protective equipment including safety shoes, hard hats, eye shields or glasses and hearing protection while operating nail guns.
At Galfand Berger LLP, our experienced Philadelphia construction accident lawyers represent injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including those in the Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, Allentown and Harrisburg areas. If you have suffered a hand injury as a result of a construction accident or defective power tool, call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.