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The safety risks in using nail guns on a construction job

Pennsylvania construction firms typically carry workers' compensation insurance to address on-the-job injuries such as those involving nail guns. Although these tools provide important benefits by allowing for greater construction productivity, their heavy use often results in accidents. Proper safety measures may minimize the risks, but it is also important to understand some of the most common situations that lead to nail gun injuries.

Apprentices may be more susceptible to nail gun mishaps because of their lack of experience. However, journeymen in construction trades can also encounter situations that result in unavoidable accidents. Four out of every 10 apprentices in carpentry suffer nail gun injuries during their training periods. At least one of every 10 carpentry apprentices can be expected to have three or more such injuries before completing an apprenticeship. On a national level, at least 37,000 nail gun injuries occur each year. Most of these incidents take place in the residential sector of the construction industry, and framing, roofing and sheathing are the most prominent activities in which nail gun accidents occur.

Some of the most common nail gun accident situations involve carelessness. Awkward positioning or misfiring can lead to an accident. Skipping the use of safety mechanisms can also lead to injury. Inexperience is more likely at play in cases of double firing or in accidental firing because of contact with a safety mechanism. Unexpected injuries can occur because of materials that are either too hard, resulting in ricocheting, or too soft, resulting in a nail protruding or becoming a projectile.

Because most construction firms have workers' compensation coverage, an injured worker can typically get medical treatment promptly without personal costs. However, one who works for an unlicensed contractor or who discovers that their company's coverage is not up to date might find that legal support is important for dealing with a work-related injury.

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

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