Nail guns are one of a framer’s most commonly used tools. They are also one of the most dangerous. Most framers can show you a scar from having shot themselves with a nail gun. Fortunately, many of these injuries are not serious. However, there have been instances where serious injury or death has occurred. Following are some very basic guidelines that will help you operate a nail gun safely. (Always familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s complete operating instructions.)
• Wear safety glasses.
• Do not hold the trigger down unless you’re nailing.
• Be careful when nailing close to the edge. The push lever at the nose of the gun can catch the wood and allow the gun to fire without the nail hitting the wood, allowing the nail to fly toward whatever is in line with the gun.
• Always keep your hand far enough away from the nose of the nail gun so that if the nail hits a knot or obstruction and bends, it will not hit your hand.
• Never point a nail gun at anyone.
• Disconnect the air hose before working on the gun.
• Use a gun hanger when working at heights, or secure your air hose so the gun does not get dragged off or fall. (See “Nail Gun and Hanger" photo.)
• When nailing off the roof or high floor sheathing, move in a forward, not a backward direction to prevent backing off the edge.
• Move from top to bottom on wall sheathing so you can use the weight of the gun to your advantage.
Trainees are the most vulnerable to nail gun accidents. Make sure that when you are training new recruits on nailing with a nail gun, you formally instruct them on nail gun safety and the potential for accidents.
Circular saws have cut off many fingers. A healthy respect for them is the first step toward safety. Follow these basic guidelines (and the manufacturer’s operating instructions):
• Wear safety glasses when operating a circular saw.
• Always keep your fingers away from where the blade is going.
• Never remove or pin back the guard on the saw. The saw guard has a tendency to catch on many cuts, especially angle cuts, which makes it tempting to pin the guard back. Aside from the fact that it is an OSHA violation, a saw can become bound in a piece of wood, and “kick back." If the guard is pinned back, this can result in serious injury such as cuts to the thigh.
• Never use a dull blade. It will cause you to put excess directional force on the saw, which could cause it to go where you don’t want it to.
• Disconnect from power if you are working on the saw.
• When you are cutting lumber, make sure that one end can fall free so that the blade does not bind and kick back.
As the teeth of a circular saw speed around at almost 140 miles per hour, it becomes very dangerous if not used properly.
Miscellaneous hand tools also need to be used properly for safety. The following guidelines apply to many hand tools:
• Make sure all safety guards are in place.
• Keep your finger off the trigger of power tools when you are carrying them to prevent accidental starting.
• Keep tools properly sharpened.
• Store tools in the locations provided.
• Before working on power tools, unplug them or take out the battery.
• Replace worn or broken tools immediately.
• Never leave tools in paths where they can become a tripping hazard.
To use a powder-actuated tool, you need to be trained by a certified trainer. Following are some of the basics that you will learn:
• You must wear safety glasses.
• Hard hats and hearing protection are recommended.
• Never point a powder-actuated nail gun at anyone.
• Before you fire, make sure no one is on the other side of the material you are firing into.
• Do not load the firing cartridge until you are ready to use it.
• If there is a misfire, hold the tool against the work surface for at least 30 seconds; then try firing again. If the tool misfires a second time, hold it against the work surface again for 30 seconds; then remove the cartridge and inspect the gun. Soak the misfired cartridges in water in a safe location.
• Powder-actuated tools need to be placed firmly against the work, perpendicular to the work to avoid ricochet.
It’s also a good idea to say “fire" just before you pull the trigger, so the shot noise will not startle the workers around you.