Nail Gun Safety


Nail guns have replaced hammers in wood frame construction. They are powerful, easy to operate and boost productivity for nailing tasks. Nail guns are a leading cause of injury among residential carpenters and responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year, of which 60% are occupationally-related. Puncture wounds to the hands and fingers are most common, but more serious injuries and deaths occur using nail guns.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH), nail guns are a leading cause of injury among residential carpenters and responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year, of which 60% are occupationally-related. Puncture wounds to the hands and fingers are most common, but more serious injuries and deaths occur using nail guns.

All nail guns have the potential to cause serious injury. Using a nail gun with a bump or automatic trigger (also known as contact trip trigger) can result in unintended nail discharge. Other risks include lack of training, working fast and keeping the trigger squeezed when not nailing. Using a nail gun with a single shot or full sequential trigger reduces the risk of injury.

According to the NIOSH guide, to prevent nail gun injuries:

  • Use full sequential trigger nail guns
  • Provide training
  • Establish nail gun work procedures
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls

Employers and workers should also seek medical attention immediately after nail gun injuries, even for hand injuries that appear to be minimal. Provide first aid and medical treatment immediately.