Safer Triggers and Training Decrease Nail Gun Injuries

Aug 14, 2008

Nail gun injuries decline with the use of safer triggers and training, but safety regulations are needed for residential carpenters, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

"Over the past three years, we have consistently found the sequential trigger twice as safe as the more commonly used contact trip trigger," said Hester Lipscomb, Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental medicine and lead author of the study.

The sequential trigger requires that the nose piece of the nail gun be pressed down before the trigger is pulled, while the contact trip trigger allows the gun to fire any time the nose and the trigger are both depressed.

"The contact trip trigger allows workers to rapidly fire the tool and more frequently results in injuries from accidental discharges, double fires and ricocheting nails," Lipscomb said.

Nail gun injuries are more common than people realize, said Lipscomb, whose research published in 2007 showed steady increases in nail gun injury rates. "There are more than 35,000 visits each year in the U.S. to emergency departments for injuries from nail guns," she said.

Most injuries involve puncture wounds or imbedded nails in the hand or fingers, but serious and devastating injuries involving the head, face and chest also occur, according to the research. A number of injuries, including several fatalities, have received attention in the national press in the last few years surrounding the research published by Lipscomb and others.

The researchers studied injuries among apprentice carpenters affiliated with the Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity (CDC-GSV). The findings are published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

"We found that carpenters with more training were better equipped to handle the tool and less prone to an injury," Lipscomb said. "Carpenters were best protected when they received both classroom training and hands-on instruction. Unfortunately, most residential carpenters, including immigrant workers, are less likely to get training compared to the union workers we studied," Lipscomb said.

"There are currently no regulations that require the sequential trigger be used or that define minimal training requirements, even though data suggests there should be," Lipscomb said. The International Staple Nail and Tool Association sponsored a voluntary change in the standard trigger for pneumatic tools in May 2003.

"The voluntary standard change only called for shipment of the sequential triggers rather than their use," Lipscomb said. "Sequential triggers are now shipped with nail guns, but the contact trip trigger is still being shipped in the same box."

In 2007, half of the nailing time among carpenters continued to be completed with the more dangerous contact trip trigger, Lipscomb said. "This was in an area with heavy media coverage and communication of the safety hazards."

The researchers found that switching to the sequential trigger was more effective than training in decreasing injury rates, and another recent study showed that switching triggers did not affect productivity.

Lipscomb's research, published last month in Public Health Reports, showed the differences in productivity between trigger types were less than one percent of the building time. "Additionally, the differences in speed were affected more by the skill of the carpenter than the trigger being used," Lipscomb said.

"Working towards the required use of the sequential trigger will be important in the prevention of injuries among carpenters."

Lipscomb believes the message is equally important to the general public. "Consumers can go to their local home improvement store and purchase the same tool carpenters are using, but they may not have any training."

"Consumers, who are less likely to receive training in tool use, need to be sure they ask for a tool with a sequential trigger, and they should ask for instructions in safe use as well."

Other researchers involved in the study include John Dement, Ph.D., of Duke, and James Nolan and Dennis Patterson of the CDC-GSV.

Provided by Duke University Medical Center

Explore further: AMA examines economic impact of physicians

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physicists create new nanoparticle for cancer therapy

32 minutes ago

A University of Texas at Arlington physicist working to create a luminescent nanoparticle to use in security-related radiation detection may have instead happened upon an advance in photodynamic cancer therapy.

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

34 minutes ago

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

8 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.