Nail guns cause numerous accidents every year due to misuse, resulting in serious injury and sometimes death. It is therefore very important to consider the possible consequences before pulling the trigger.
There are many safe working practices and appropriate personal protective equipment that you can consider that can help reduce these risks when using a nail gun.
In short, the 9 most important nail gun safety tips that can make working with a nail gun a lot safer are:
- In the first instance, you need to follow all the instructions specified by the manufacturer in the manual.
- Ensure that the tool meets all applicable safety standards and that all safety features are in place.
- Never attempt to alter or circumvent any safety feature.
- Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
- When you’re not driving nails, remove your fingers from the trigger.
- Before doing maintenance, moving to a new worksite, or troubleshooting, the first thing to do is to unplug the nail gun.
- Keep your free hand, as well as yourself, out of the shooting line. Also, keep an eye out for anyone working behind the surface you’re nailing in.
- Always keep the nail gun pointing downwards and never point it at other people.
- Make sure you have a tidy workplace so that you can’t trip over, and the nail gun can go off accidentally.
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Some Nail Gun Background Info You Need To Know
Since the nail gun was invented by three construction workers in 1954, nailing has become easier and faster. But these advantages are also accompanied by some disadvantages. Nailguns are powerful and can be extremely devastating if used without proper instructions.
Nail guns generate tremendous force that makes it possible to launch nails at speeds between 1,200 feet (ca. 366 m) and 1,400 feet (ca. 427 m) per second. Knowing this, it won’t be difficult to make the logical conclusion that, if used incorrectly, nail guns can cause serious injury or destroy your workpiece. When working with a nail gun, it is therefore very important that all safety tips are followed.
In nail gun accidents, hands and fingers are the most affected, and in some cases, serious injuries have even resulted in death.
According to OSHA, approximately 37,000 people are injured by nail guns worldwide every year.
Furthermore, according to an OSHA research, two out of every five carpenter’s apprentices were injured by a nail gun over the course of four years. In actuality, because not all injuries are reported or handled properly, this number could be substantially higher.
If you don’t want to belong to this group of people and want to be able to continue working on your projects in complete safety, read all the nail gun safety tips mentioned in this article. This reduces the chance of lifelong injuries the next time you use a nail gun.
How Do Nail Gun Injuries Happen?
When you buy a nail gun, it is equipped with some good safety features. So you will probably wonder how the hell it is still possible for accidents to happen with this tool. Well, nail gun injuries happen faster than you might think, and sometimes the cause of an injury is because of things you wouldn’t immediately think of. That’s why I list a few important ones for you according to the reports from nail gun injuries in the past.
- When shooting a nail, it’s not uncommon for a second nail to be pulled from the magazine. The second nail has the potential to fly away or bend.
- When you mistakenly press the safety contact against something while keeping your finger on the trigger.
- A nail that penetrates the side of a piece of wood rather than going straight into it.
- On hardwood or buried nails, nails ricochet.
- The nail gun makes poor contact with the wood, allowing the nail to soar through the air.
- Bypassing or deactivating security systems on purpose.
In addition to the risk of injuries from the nails, there is also the risk of hearing damage when working with a nail gun.
Pneumatic nail guns produce short but loud noise peaks: one from the nail hammering and one from exhausting the air. It is therefore recommended to wear good hearing protection. I will come back to this later in this article.
Before You Pull The Trigger, You Need To Know This
Nailer safety starts with understanding your nailer. Once you know what you have in your hands, you can start thinking about the nail gun safety tips themselves and how to implement them.
To be able to work safely, a nail gun safety mechanism is now being built into the trigger. Not every brand or model will use the same system, so there are different trigger mechanisms. Here is what you need to know:
Every nailer has two basic controls: a finger trigger and a touch safety tip on the gun’s snout.
There are several factors that can influence the trigger mechanism:
The sequence in which the various controls are activated.
If the trigger can be held in a pressed position long enough to release multiple nails.
If each individual nail requires the trigger to be released and then re-pinched.
For nail guns, there are four different types of triggers. A selective trigger switch on some nail guns allows the user to choose between two or more trigger systems. I’ll go over these types of trigger mechanisms below.
Full Sequential Trigger
This type of nail gun is the safest on the market. Only if the controls are activated in the correct order will this trigger fire a nail.
To use the nail gun, first insert the safety contact point into the workpiece, then pull the trigger to fire the gun. To fire a second nail, both the safety contact tip and the trigger must be disengaged and reactivated.
I myself have a nail gun with this type of trigger mechanism in my workshop. You can see the unboxing video of this nail gun here.
Trigger By Contact
It discharges a nail when the safety contact and trigger are activated in any sequence. You can either pull the trigger first and then push the safety contact tip, or press the safety contact tip first and then pull the trigger. A nail will be hammered every time the safety contact is touched while the trigger is held down.
Triggering a Single Sequential
This trigger, like the full sequential trigger, will only fire a nail if the controls are activated in the correct sequence. To begin, press the safety contact tip into the workpiece. The user then pulls the trigger, which releases a nail. Only the trigger must be released to discharge a second nail. The safety contact tip can be pressed into the workpiece for an extended period of time.
Trigger With a Single Activation
When the safety contact and trigger are activated in any sequence, this trigger will discharge a single nail, just like the contact trigger. Release the trigger, move the tool, then squeeze the trigger again without releasing the safety contact tip to discharge a second nail.
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How To Prevent Nail Gun Injuries
To avoid nail gun injuries, there are a few things you should know or do before you get started.
I’ll go over the most important ones below.
Use The Full Sequential Trigger.
This is the safest nail gun safety mechanism since it avoids the risk of unintentional nail discharge and double fires.
Training Is Provided.
Both new and seasoned workers might benefit from safety training on the causes of nail gun injuries and how to avoid them. That is precisely the purpose of this article: to guarantee that you are well-informed on the dangers and correct use of a nail gun. Develop your abilities in the categories listed below:
- Find out what the most prevalent causes of injuries are.
- Learn how to recognize the many types of triggers and how to utilize them properly.
- It is critical to use personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly
- First assistance and medical attention.
Some of these you could already read above. Keep reading to learn more about the other topics that haven’t been described yet.
Establish Work Procedures For Nail Guns
You need established procedures to protect yourself. When using a nail gun, your safety procedures should include the following:
- Check tools and power sources before using a nail gun.
- Keep your hands at least 30 cm away from the nail point at all times.
- Always disconnect the compressed air when leaving a nail gun unattended, climbing a ladder or stairs, or passing the nail gun to a colleague.
- Never bypass or disable safety features.
- Always use a nail gun with your dominant hand.
- Provide PPE such as safety glasses, safety shoes, and strong hearing protection. (Related article: Woodworking Safety – What PPE Do You Need For Woodworking?)
Take a look at my article, “Which Woodworking Shoes To Buy?”, for some ideas. With the tips and tricks you’ll learn there, you’ll know exactly which safety shoe you need in no time.
Some Extra Nail Gun Safety Tips
If you’ve read all of the tips above and apply them to the workplace, you’ll be well on your way to stay safe using a nail gun.
However, there are a few additional things that you should definitely know.
When the air pressure is ideal, pneumatic tools perform best. Before you begin, double-check everything.
A nail gun uses around 300 liters of air per minute, or 10 cubic feet per minute (CFM). The pressure bar for the operation should be set to 8 psi (115 PSI).
Check out my post, What Is The Best Air Compressor For Woodworking 7 Things To Look For, for additional information on the proper air pressure for air tools.
There is a chart regarding air consumption and pressure for woodworking air tools there.
Nail guns come in a range of shapes and sizes and can weigh up to 8 pounds (3.63 kg).
In my essay, How To Choose The Right Nail Gun For Your Projects, I provide a list of all available nail guns on the market.
Many jobs demand employees to handle and utilize nail guns for extended periods of time. Holding a heavyweight for an extended amount of time, such as a nail gun, can cause musculoskeletal symptoms such as soreness or tightness in the fingers, wrist, or forearm, as well as tendons and muscles.
These signs and symptoms can cause discomfort or, in the worst-case scenario, make you unable to function.
So take plenty of pauses or vary your work as much as possible.
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly, no matter how well-prepared you are or how many nail gun safety tips you have applied.
In that case, you better have a first aid kit in your workshop. The ability to quickly treat an injury can have a positive impact on recovery.
So make sure you have a good first aid kit or put together one yourself tailored to your needs and your workplace. My article, How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST, will certainly help you with this.
Nail Gun Safety Tips – Conclusion
Nail gun injuries are painful and some cause serious injury or death. These injuries can be prevented with a few nail gun safety tips. Check out your workshop and use this nail gun safety tips guide to improve safety on your job sites to reduce nail gun injuries.
What you can also do to increase your safety is to learn how to load a nail gun properly. By taking the right steps you can avoid nail gun accidents.
Building your workshop can be daunting, filled with trial and error. Believe me, I’ve been there too.
But it was “The Ultimate Small Workshop” course, a gem I discovered and now endorse on Christofix.com, that provided insights unparalleled to any other. This expertise empowered me to invest wisely and save substantially.
I really suggest it to all of my fellow DIYers and creators!
I hope these nail gun safety tips were helpful and that these can save you from nail gun injuries.
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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration