David Burkhardt

Nail guns are used every day on construction jobs. They are effective tools, but also cause tens of thousands of serious injuries each year. Nail gun safety is critical because more injuries to construction workers are caused by nail guns than any other tool. These injuries are often not reported or treated properly.


  • Accidental nail discharge from double fire
  • Accidental nail discharge from bumping the safety contact with the trigger depressed
  • Nail penetrating through lumber
  • Nail ricocheting after contacting a defect or foreign object
  • Missing the work piece
  • Awkward position nailing
  • Bypassing safety mechanisms


AIR PRESSURE: Pneumatic nail guns can operate at an air pressure of 100 P.S.I., defective hoses and connectors can result in hose whipping or even accidental firing.
NOISE: Nail guns produce short but loud “impulse” noise peaks. These loud short bursts can contribute to hearing loss
PHYSICAL DISORDERS: Nail guns can weigh up to 8 pounds. Holding that weight for long periods can cause soreness or tenderness in the fingers, wrist, or forearm.


  • Use a full sequential trigger gun: Research has shown that the risk of injury is twice as high when using a multi-shot contact trigger as opposed to a single-shot sequential trigger nailer.
  • Be fully trained: Make sure that nail gun tool labels and instructions are understood and followed. Workers should Understand:

o How nail guns work and how triggers differ.
o How to operate the air compressor
o How to fire the nail gun
o How to hold lumber during placement work
o How to recognize and approach ricochet-prone work surfaces
o How to handle awkward position work

  • Establish nail gun work procedures

o Avoid awkward work positions
o Use a hammer if you can’t reach the work while holding the nailer or for work at face or head height
o Position ladders as close to your work as possible. Don’t over reach.
o Check the tool and air source before use
o Check the workpiece for knots or anything else that could cause a ricochet
o Keep your hands at least a foot away from the nailing point.
o Keep the gun pointed away from your body and from co-workers.
o Set up operations so that others are not in the line of fire from nail guns

  • Disconnect the compressed air when:

o Leaving a nailer unattended
o Climbing up and down a ladder or stairs
o Passing the nail gun
o Clearing jams
o Performing any maintenance on the gun

  • Use the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Safety shoes, Hard hats, High Impact eye protection ( safety glasses or goggles), Hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs)
  • Report all injuries and close calls: Reporting helps ensure that employees get medical attention. It also helps to identify unrecognized job site risks that could lead to additional injuries.
  • Get first aid and medical treatment: 25% of hand injuries involve bone damage. Nail strip glue, plastic, clothing can be left in an injury and lead to infection.
  • Barbs on nails can also cause secondary injuries if the nail is removed incorrectly.
  1. Next Post:
  2. Previous Post:

Get In Touch