Safety Precautions for Nail Guns

For the construction professional or the do-it-yourself aficionado, nail guns are an excellent investment. They can help a project go smoothly, saving a lot of time and effort when used properly. But as with most heavy-duty tools, it can also do a lot of harm if used carelessly. There are certain precautions that should be taken to ensure that the operation is as safe as possible for the user and anyone nearby. Both amateurs and seasoned pros can benefit from brushing up on the proper operation procedures.

A tool being easy to use does not necessarily correlate with it being safe. Most nail guns are very simple to use, but they can still pose a great risk of injury if not used in the proper way. Pulling the trigger causes the nail to pierce the surface of the hardwood or other material that the gun is placed over. Fortunately, there is little chance of discharging a nail into something that you don’t want nailed down, since the tips of most guns have a compression head that prevents it from firing if it’s not pressed against a solid surface.

A few simple operation tips should help anyone get up and running with their project. Before using a nail gun, be sure that your are wearing the proper safety gear. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Safety Glasses with shields
  • A hard hat
  • Heavy-duty work boots

There are many types of nail guns on the market. Some are cordless, some require a compressor. But pretty much all of them behave the same way: pull the trigger, fire off a nail.

To start with, keep your hands and other body parts away from the head of the nail gun while it’s in use. Most nail gun injuries come from the user not being aware of their body position. Ensure that your work zone is reasonably clean, free of tripping hazards and loose tools. Don’t use a nail gun if you are balancing in awkward position. Always make sure your feet are firmly planted and your stance is strong.

If your nail gun is powered by a compressor, never transport the system to another area without first turning it off and disconnecting the hose. On electric models, make sure the device is powered down and unplugged before moving on. Be aware of where the cord or hose is placed, and warn others working nearby, as it can be a tripping hazard itself.

Before nailing a surface, make sure that the nail will not be penetrating electrical or water lines. If you’re unfamiliar with the model you’re using, you might do a few tests to see how far the nail will penetrate and how much resistance the trigger has. Otherwise, double firings can be a problem. Just make sure you learn the proper operation of the nail gun you’ll be using.

If the nail gun jams during operation, make sure that it is fully powered down, the hose is disconnected and the air is bled off before clearing the jam. On electric models, turn it off and remove the battery before clearing. If the cause of the jam is not readily apparent, reading the manufacturer’s manual or contacting them for advice is recommended.

Before using any power tool, make sure to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer specs and recommendations. Each model has its own distinctions and features. It’s important to be familiar with the model you’ll be using. And most of all, do not use a nail gun for anything but its intended purpose.