You’re used to working at great heights. One of the perks of a job in construction is the spectacular view from the top of a half-finished home, and since you never get dizzy, you’re a perfect fit for framing jobs. But after hearing stories about nail guns misfiring, you were starting to wonder when it was going to be your turn—and now that it has happened, you can’t help but think something could have been done to prevent it.

Why Construction Workers Keep Suffering Nail Puncture Injuries Year After Year

Most construction workers who suffer puncture injuries are hurt by nail guns. These devices allow for faster work by discharging nails quickly; however, their ability to “shoot” a metal projectile makes them inherently dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 28,000 workers were sent to emergency rooms with nail gun injuries in 2005 after suffering puncture wounds, contusions from nail gun strikes, broken bones, and eye injuries.

Several studies have found that certain worker behaviors as well as demands of the job increase the risk of a nail gun injury. In the past, injuries have been caused as a result of:

  • Working in awkward positions. Framing and roofing work almost always requires a worker to contort into an awkward position while firing a nail, and accident risk increases when working overhead or working at a height.
  • Multitasking. Workers may attempt to keep a nail gun in one hand while handling and balancing loads with the other, keeping their index finger on the trigger of the gun. This can lead to accidental firing, toe nailing, or firing a nail towards the worker’s own body or that of his coworker.
  • Misfires. Construction workers typically use one of two different types of nail guns: a contact trip trigger and a sequential trigger. Contact trigger guns are inherently more dangerous, since a worker can keep the trigger pressed while rapidly pressing the nose element against many surfaces (also known as “bounce nailing”). However, either gun can jam, misfire, or fire when pressed against a body part rather than a board.

What Can Employers Do to Reduce the Risk of Construction Nail Punctures?

Employers can be liable for a nail gun injury in many ways, but the most consistent factors in nail gun injuries are faulty equipment and lack of training. Workers who have little to no jobsite training on how to use nail guns properly are most likely to injure themselves, while workers who are given outdated or unsafe equipment are put at unnecessary risk of injury by their employers.

If you were injured by a nail gun on a construction site, you should have the incident investigated as soon as possible. Your employer may be guilty of negligence, making him liable for the full amount of your injury and recuperation costs. Fill out the short contact form on this page to tell us what happened, and we will contact you privately with your legal options.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer