Nail Gun Injuries Surge


But regulatory bodies have cited certain models of nail guns in the past for safety reasons. On June 29, 2006, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a public safety notice for a consumer-level nail gun, citing its potential to eject a nail unexpectedly. In the previous year, another type of nail gun was recalled after similar complaints were reported.

In order to prevent these accidental discharges, manufacturers have started incorporating design changes into nail guns intended to make them safer. In recent years, many nail guns have featured what is called a "sequential-trip trigger mechanism," which allows nails to be fired from the gun only when the nose of the gun has been firmly placed on the target.

Study authors say the report highlights not only a need for safer nail guns, but also for proper training and warnings for consumers.

"Just because these tools are easy to use doesn't mean people don't need training," Lipscomb says. "Because it is easy to use, it ends up in the hands of inexperienced workers and consumers. "I think we can devise a way to use safer tools and emphasize that people need to be trained to use them before they get them into their hands."

In response, John Kurtz, executive vice president of the International Staple, Nail and Tool Association, said in a statement to ABC News that the organization is continuing work to change industry standards on trigger mechanisms in nail guns.

"Noting the sharp increase in the use of power tools outside of the workplace, primarily by do-it-yourselfers, we will continue to work with all interested parties to increase safety, training and education, minimize risk, and reduce injuries for both workers and consumers," the statement reads.

Don't Get Nailed

Fortunately, there are already certain things that consumers can do to minimize their risk of injury when using nail guns.

Slovis says that consumers need to remember to respect a nail gun the same way that they would respect a handgun. This means never pointing the gun at anyone -- and always knowing what or whom is on the other side of the wall.

"In general, injuries from nail guns are based on unsafe use and a lack of understanding rather than the end user simply being a victim of the device," Slovis says. "These are safe when used properly."

Such respect for these tools could go a long way in keeping consumers out of the emergency room, Lipscomb says.

"There have been so many of these catastrophic injuries in the past four years or so in the U.S.," she says. "You see them on the news, and as unfortunate as these accidents are, it's not like we don't know anything about how they happen.

"We're smart enough that we ought to be able to prevent these accidents."

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