Construction sites in New Jersey can be dangerous places. The chances of a worker being involved in a construction accident are extremely high.
Nail gun injuries are particularly common in the construction industry. Close to 37,000 emergency room visits each year are due to nail gun injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports.
Framing and sheathing work at residential construction sites is where an estimated two-thirds of nail gun injuries occur. Roofing, exterior siding and finish work are other jobs where workers are likely to be injured by a nail gun.
According to OSHA:
- Two out of every five apprentice carpenters are injured while using a nail gun at some point during their first four years of training
- More than 50 percent of reported nail gun injuries occur to the hands and fingers
- Legs are the second most injured body part in nail gun accidents
- Nail gun injuries to the spinal cord, head, neck or internal organs have been known to result in paralysis, blindness, brain damage or death
Additionally, OSHA reports that the most common causes of nail gun injuries at construction sites are:
- Unintended nail gun discharge
- Nail penetration through a wood surface
- Nail ricochet after hitting a hard surface
- Missing the intended target
- Awkward nail positioning
- Completely ignoring or disabling safety mechanisms.
Ways to Prevent Nail Gun Injuries at Construction Sites
With the potential for nail gun injuries being so high, it is important for construction workers and supervisors to familiarize themselves with the different ways of preventing nail gun injuries.
According to OSHA, the following safety measures can dramatically reduce the risk of on-the-job nail gun accidents:
1. Using the full sequential trigger mechanism whenever operating a nail gun.
When the sequential trigger mechanism is used, the nose of the gun has to be depressed before the trigger can be pulled. This safety feature will minimize the chances of an accidental discharge of nails.
2. Providing safety training for both new and experienced workers.
Even though many workers may believe they already know how to operate a nail gun, training can help them to avoid an accident by reminding them to stay alert and aware of potential dangers. The topics covered in training should include:
- Air compressor operation
- Lumber placement
- Spotting potential ricochet dangers
- Different types of triggers
- What to do when the nail gun malfunctions
- Main causes of nail gun injuries.
3. Having a set of rules employees must follow when operating a nail gun.
While educating workers on specific safety procedures can help to prevent nail gun accidents, it is also important to put in place certain rules and procedures employees must follow when operating a nail gun. These rules should include:
- Never point or shoot a nail gun towards your body or the body of another
- Always disconnect the compressed air unit when the nail gun is not in use
- Never disable nail gun safety features
- Immediately report any malfunctioning or inoperable nail gun.
4. Providing and requiring the use of protective gear.
Providing and requiring the use of safety glasses or goggles, hard hats and hearing protection is a must for construction workers whose jobs involve the use of a nail gun. Steel-toed boots or other safety shoes can also reduce the risk of foot and toe injuries.
5. Encouraging open discussions about nail gun injuries or close calls.
Workers should be encouraged to report nail gun injuries. For one reason, reporting the injury will allow the worker to get immediate medical treatment. Another reason to report the injury is that, under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, you have only 90 days from the date of your injury to give notice of your injury to your employer. It is an essential step in filing a workers’ compensation claim. Finally, reporting an injury could lead your employer to provide additional training and adopt new safety measures, ultimately helping to prevent future nail gun accidents.
A Lawyer Can Assist If You Have Suffered a Nail Gun Injury
If you have suffered a nail gun injury that has prevented you from working, forced you to work in a lighter-duty job that pays less than what you earned before or caused you to lose the use of a limb, you may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey. Your medical expenses should also be covered through workers’ compensation.
If your nail gun injury resulted from the negligence of a non-employer or co-worker or due to a defect with the nail gun, you may also be able to pursue what is called a “third-party liability claim.”
The law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., assists injured construction workers in Teaneck and throughout New Jersey. Contact us to learn more about the options available for seeking the benefits and other compensation you deserve.