Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Discuss Nail Gun AccidentsOctober 13, 2015
Construction workers, particularly those in residential construction, rely on nail guns as an efficient way to increase their productivity at work. These extremely powerful tools are most commonly used in framing and sheathing, finishing, roofing, flooring and siding. Nail guns are capable of driving a nail into a piece of wood, stone, steel or concrete in seconds and with minimal effort. They also can be extremely dangerous without proper precaution.
Common Workplace Injury
Each year, an estimated 37,000 people visit the emergency room with a nail gun injury. More than two-thirds of these injuries occurred on the job. Nail guns are responsible for more construction worker hospitalizations than any other tool. A study of apprentice carpenters revealed how common it is to have a nail gun accident. The results of the study included: two out of five workers were injured while using a nail gun during their four years of training; one in five were injured twice; and one in 10 were injured three times or more. Much of the time, it is not the person operating the nail gun, but a co-worker or passerby that is injured.
More than half of reported nail gun injuries involve the hand and fingers. Other commonly injured parts of the body include the leg, knee, thigh, foot and toes. Nail gun injuries can be severe or, in some cases, even fatal. The most serious nail gun injures involve the spinal cord, head, neck, eye and internal organs.
Nail guns have been known to cause:
- Bone fractures
- Puncture wounds
- Damage to joints and tendons
- Nerve damage
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Hearing loss
- Permanent disability
- Scars and disfigurement
- Brain damage
Causes of Nail Gun Accidents
- Unintended nail discharge from double fire – Contact triggers are prone to double firing. Newer workers or those holding the nail gun in an awkward position are most at risk.
- Nail gun recoil – Some injuries are not related to the nail, but rather the gun itself. Working in tight spaces or pushing too hard on the tool can cause the nail gun to hit the user’s head or face when it recoils.
- Unintended nail discharge from knocking the safety contact with the trigger squeezed – Both contact and sequential triggers will fire if the trigger is being held and the safety contact is bumped or brushed accidentally.
- Nail blow-out or ricochet– This can happen when the nail passes through a surface and becomes a projectile. It can also happen when a nail hits something unexpectedly, such as a knot in the wood or a piece of metal, causing the nail to shoot off in a different direction.
- Awkward positioning – Toe-nailing, holding the nail gun above shoulder height or in tight spaces, or nailing while standing on a ladder can greatly increase the risk of a nail gun injury. It can also put the worker at a greater risk of falling.
- Bypassing safety mechanisms – The safety features on a nail gun should never be tampered with or disabled. Federal regulations require that all hand and power tools, whether furnished by the employer or the employee, should be maintained in safe condition.
- Defective nail gun – Manufacturing or design defects can cause serious injury. There have been tens of thousands of nail guns recalled in recent years because of safety concerns. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the tools their workers are using are not on the list.
Most nail gun injuries are preventable when proper safety precautions are taken. The most effective way to prevent injury is to use full sequential trigger nail guns. This can help to reduce the risk of unintentional nail discharge and double fires that can injure the worker or anyone else the nail gun might accidentally bump into. Employers should establish safety procedures that include proper training, providing personal protective equipment and regular equipment inspection and maintenance. Employers should also encourage reporting of injuries and close calls, as well as provide workers with access to first aid and medical treatment.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Injured Construction Workers
For over thirty years, Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been committed to helping injured workers and their families get the compensation they need and deserve after a workplace accident. Contact us online or call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free consultation and find out how we can put our experience to work for you.