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Jean Martin
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Shot With Nail Gun – An Increasingly Alarming Headline

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Young worker shot in head with nail gun

Worker shot with nail gun

These are headlines that I don’t enjoy reading. I’ve read reports that as many as 100 people a day show up in Emergency Rooms with injuries due to nail guns. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that over $300 million in medical care is spent each year to treat injuries due to nail guns. The situation is becoming so prevalent that even Hollywood is currently shooting a movie entitled Nailed about a woman who gets accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun. At least the early reports of the plot suggests that the woman, in this political satire, goes to Washington, D.C. to fight for the rights of the “bizarrely injured.” I don’t like the idea of poking fun at those injured by the dangerous tools, but I would agree that a campaign to warn people of the dangers of nail guns needs to be mounted. My InjuryBoard colleague Steve Lombardi has enlisted several of us to start this campaign within the pages of InjuryBoard. Steve started us off with an informative piece entitled “Useful Tools or Dangerous Weapons?” I think the answer to his question is that nail guns are both.

The fact is, more and more people are injured by these useful tools. Nail guns have made hand-nailing almost obsolete due to their quickness and efficiency. The biggest advantage of nail guns is their ability to rapidly fire a nail into a surface and do so repeatedly. However, the quickness and ease of the nail gun sometimes lures people into a false sense of security. Sometimes people use them in precarious situations, meaning perhaps not on stable footing, because they believe the job will be done quickly before they are able to fall. I f you happen to loose your balance just as you pull the trigger, it is possible to fire two or three nails into the same hole. Only the first one makes it in – the other two go off in random directions. Those other directions could be towards a co-worker or family member standing in the same room. An InjuryBoard colleague, Paul Jacquart recently posted about one of his clients who was hit in the head with such a nail when a co-worker was using a nail gun above him.

Nail guns are dangerous tools and must be used with an abundance of caution. To quote another InjuryBoard colleague, David Mittleman, folks must remember that nail guns are useful, but can be dangerous and deadly. Nail guns look easy to use, but we must read the manufacturer’s instructions prior to using the nail gun. Wear safety glasses when using a nail gun. When moving about the work area, keep your finger OFF of the trigger. Never assume that the nail gun is empty and never point it towards someone and never use it above someone’s head.

Even if you take all precautions, nail guns are still dangerous. Please read a great article by my InjuryBoard colleague Brooks Schuelke on the defective design of many nail guns that pose an inherent risk. As Brooks explains, there are two types of triggers used on nail guns – contact and sequential. The sequential trip-trigger makes unintentional firing of nail guns less likely. With nail gun accidents and injuries on the rise, I simply don’t understand why more manufacturers are not using this type of trigger. Consumers, whether professional construction workers or do-it-yourselfers should pay close attention to the type of trigger used with a particular model. Read this safety bulletin that gives you tips on how you can tell which type of trigger you have.

As we enter the warm summer months and start more construction projects, please use all caution when using nail guns. If you or a loved one are injured by a nail gun, then please call an InjuryBoard member who can help you determine what legal rights you may have.