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Avoiding the risks of nail gun injuries

Illinois construction workers may not all work with nail guns, but those who do can face significant safety risks if appropriate cautions are ignored. Statistics indicate that an estimated 37,000 such injuries occur in the United States each year, and the majority of these incidents take place in the residential construction sector.

Apprentices may be most at risk of construction accidents involving nail guns. Some of the most common injury scenarios include unintended discharge because of a double fire and unintended discharge due to inadvertent contact with safety mechanisms. Apprentices may also experience injuries because of awkward positions or missing the work piece. However, experienced construction workers may occasionally bypass safety mechanisms, resulting in injury risks. Some injuries may be unavoidable due to problems with the materials involved. A nail could ricochet after striking metal or another hard material. Soft material could result in a nail going all the way through or even becoming a projectile.

Training is important as those who will use nail guns become familiar with appropriate safety practices. Of those involved in carpentry apprenticeships, 40 percent experience at least one nail gun injury. Approximately 10 percent of carpentry apprentices experience three or more nail gun injuries during their training years. The primary area of the body to be hurt in a nail gun incident is the hand, and 25 percent of hand injuries result in long-term damage to structural features such as the tendons or joints.

An appropriate first response to a nail gun injury is to seek medical attention. Additionally, an injured party should report the incident to their employer to initiate a workers' compensation claim. An attorney can assist with the filing as well as in subsequent hearings should the claim be disputed or denied.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Nail Gun Safety", accessed on March 1, 2015

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