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Nail gun injuries in the construction industry

Although nail guns boost productivity and are easy to use, they can be dangerous tools. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 37,000 visits to emergency rooms are made every year because of nail gun injuries. Minnesota employees in the construction industry may not realize that some workers die from nail gun accidents as well.

In residential construction, around 66 percent of nail gun injuries happen on sheathing and framing jobs. Finishing, siding and roofing workers also suffer nail gun injuries frequently. Studies have not surprisingly shown that apprentice carpenters and other less-experienced workers are particularly at risk. More than 50 percent of injuries from nail guns happen to the fingers and hands, and 25 percent of these cause damage to the bones, joints tendons and nerves. The second-most common locations for nail gun injuries are the toes, feet, legs, thighs and knees. Injuries to the wrist or forearm, trunk, neck and head occur less frequently.

Some of the common factors that put workers at risk of suffering nail gun injuries include the gun unintentionally firing twice, the nail penetrating a wood work piece, and the gun unintentionally firing while the worker is squeezing the trigger and knocks the safety contact. Double fires often happen when new workers push too hard to reduce recoil. Some other causes include missing the work piece, nailing in a tricky position, ignoring safety mechanisms, and the nail bouncing around after it hits a metal or hard surface.

Minnesota has a no-fault system for workers' compensation, and thus negligence is not a factor when determining whether a worker injured on the job is entitled to benefits. These benefits might provide payment of all necessary medical care expenses as well as a percentage of wages lost due to an inability to work.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Nail Gun Safety", accessed on March 21, 2015

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