Timber framing is the most common type of residential construction in the United States, and nail guns have made it vastly easier and faster. Workers can drive nails in seconds with very little effort. Nails are cheaper than screws, so these guns also keep the costs down, both by making materials cost less and by improving worker efficiency.
The downside is that nail guns can also be incredibly dangerous. Some reports point to thousands of injuries every single year. New workers and apprentices face exceptionally high levels of danger. Even a small nail gun can easily drive a nail all the way through a worker's hand.
What can employers do to make these injuries less common? Below are six key steps that help keep workers safe:
- Provide nail guns with a full sequential trigger, so that workers cannot "bump fire" the gun by holding the trigger back.
- Have set rules and procedures that must be followed when using the gun.
- Offer workers, especially those with little experience, extensive training programs before putting them on the job.
- Tell workers to always report any close calls, as well as injuries. When workers talk about these incidents -- even when no one was hurt -- it promotes a company culture that values safety.
- Give workers all of the personal protective equipment that they need, and make sure they use it on every job. This could include heavy work gloves, pants and eye protection, among other things.
- Have first aid kits on site and give workers training to help them respond properly to any injury, no matter how minor or how serious.
These tips are from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they can make a huge difference on a worksite. Nail guns themselves are not going away, and they will always pose an inherent risk. By recognizing this risk, employers can keep workers safe.
If you suffered a serious workplace injury, be sure you know all of your legal rights.
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