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Watch that Nail Gun!

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ April 30, 2010

Between 1991 and 2005, hospitalizations for do-it-yourselfers for nail gun injuries rose by 300 percent. Obviously, part of the reason is that more people are undertaking DIY projects at home. Another contributing factor may be the decline in prices for nail guns. But, I'm pretty confident the main reason is that people never learn how to use them safely and think they can wield one like they're a wild-west gunslinger. Emergency room physicians across the land have taken nails out of skulls, lungs, and extremities of wounded DIYers.

Duke University associate professor of occupational and environmental medicine, Hester Lipscomb, finds that homeowners are safer using nails guns that come equipped with a sequential-trip trigger. The New York Times reports that an emergency room nurse in Maine treated a victim who blew a nail right through his heavy work boots; having to remove the nail with brute force.

In California alone, companies reported 1,890 nail gun injuries from 2003 to 2006--and these were to professional construction workers. However, The Sacramento Bee claims that under-rep0rting is widespread. More than 100 nail gun-related injuries are reported across the United States every day, costing $338 million a year for medical services.

Contact vs. Sequential Nail Guns

Researchers say the problem, by and large, is created by contact trigger nail guns that go off instantly. In Connecticut, a jury awarded a victim a $3.4 million judgment against manufacturer Stanley Bostitch Inc. In that case, a contact nail gun fired and the projectile bounced into a man's head, partially paralyzing him. Some 25 such suits had been filed against Bostitch for brain injuries that resulted from operating the equipment, and the gun maker had reportedly settled 20 out of court. The Bostitch catalog describes sequential and contact trip triggers, but it doesn't keep consumers from making poor choices.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that all operators place their hands, eyes, and fingers at risk whenever they use a nail gun. It recommends using guns that require a two-step sequence before firing. It recommends that you use safety glasses, keep fingers away from the trigger when you're not nailing, and to never defeat safety features on a nail gun.

Homeowners have found that nail guns are great for hammering in cedar shingles. The easy availability of rental nail guns means you should take time to review the safety procedures and ask for help if you don't know how to operate the model. Be safe out there!

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