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Nail guns are one of the most popular tools used by construction workers. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for the hospitalization of more construction workers than any other tool-related injury. According to the Center for Disease Control, nail gun injuries account for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits each year. Ensuring employees are aware of the hazards when working with nail guns is essential for preventing injuries.
Powerful and easy to operate, nail guns improve productivity for construction nailing. They also present significant hazards and risks. All nail guns rely on two basic controls: a finger trigger and a contact safety tip located on the nose of the gun. The trigger mechanisms vary based their action. They depend upon the order in which the controls are activated. Some nail guns fire upon squeeze of the trigger to discharge multiple nails. Other nail guns require the trigger to be squeezed, released, and squeezed for individual nail to be discharged. Nail guns may also have a selective trigger switch which allows the user to choose among two or more trigger systems.
Risk to workers occur when nails are fired into hard, metal surfaces or when material splinters when fired into. Contact trigger nailers are susceptible to double firing, especially when trying to properly position the nailer against the work surface. Unintended firing often happens faster than the user can react and release the trigger, so pointing toward any person or unintended work surface should be strictly prohibited.
Nail gun safety requirements fall within OSHA’s hand and portable powered tool standard. The standard applies to all employees using nail guns as part of their work. The rule also applies where employees furnish the workplace with their own nail guns.
- 29 CFR 1910.241 — Definitions
- 29 CFR 1910.242 — Hand and portable powered tools and equipment, general
- 29 CFR 1910.243 — Guarding of portable powered tools
- 29 CFR 1910.244 — Other portable tools and equipment
- Explosive power-load, also known as load: Any substance in any form capable of producing a propellant force.
- Contact trigger: A trigger mechanism designed to allow firing of a tool only when contact is made with an object or material. This may also be referred to as “bump firing.”
- Hammer-operated piston tool — low-velocity type: A tool which, by means of a heavy mass hammer supplemented by a load, moves a piston designed to be captive to drive a stud, pin, or fastener into a work surface, always starting the fastener at rest and in contact with the work surface. It shall be so designed that when used with any load that accurately chambers in it and that is commercially available at the time the tool is submitted for approval, it will not cause such stud, pin, or fastener to have a mean velocity in excess of 300 feet per second when measured 6.5 feet from the muzzle end of the barrel.
- High-velocity tool: A tool or machine which, when used with a load, propels or discharges a stud, pin, or fastener, at velocities in excess of 300 feet per second when measured 6.5 feet from the muzzle end of the barrel, for the purpose of impinging it upon, affixing it to, or penetrating another object or material.
- Low-velocity piston tool: A tool that utilizes a piston designed to be captive to drive a stud, pin, or fastener into a work surface. It shall be so designed that when used with any load that accurately chambers in it and that is commercially available at the time the tool is submitted for approval, it will not cause such stud, pin, or fastener to have a mean velocity in excess of 300 feet per second when measured 6.5 feet from the muzzle end of the barrel.
- Protective shield or guard: A device or guard attached to the muzzle end of the tool, which is designed to confine flying particles.
- Stud, nail, pin, or fastener: A fastening device specifically designed and manufactured for use in explosive-actuated fastening tools.
- To chamber: To fit properly without the use of excess force, the case being duly supported.
- Tool: An explosive-actuated fastening tool, unless otherwise indicated, and all accessories pertaining thereto.
Summary of requirements
- Conduct hazard assessments relating to the use of nail guns in your workplace.
- Inspect nail guns and associated accessories including guards and cords daily to ensure they are in safe and working order.
- Train employees on the proper use, storage, and maintenance of nail guns in your workplace.
- Establish and communicate procedures and policies required for safe nail gun operations.
- Train employees on nail gun safety, including to never point a nail gun toward another person or swing any powered tool by their cords or other extensions.
- Include employees in safety planning to ensure they are aware of rules related to nail gun operation and other important safety requirements in your workplace.
- Investigate any incidents or near misses involving nail guns so measures can be taken to protect workers and prevent similar future incidents
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['Hand and Other Portable Powered Tools']
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