Study Sees Rise In Nail Gun-Related Injuries
November 11, 2013

Nail Gun Injuries On The Rise

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

A new study published in the journal Emergency Medicine Australasia found that nail gun injuries are on the rise.

Researchers from Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital found that young males are at the greatest risk of sustaining a nail gun injury to their non-dominant hand while at work. Nail guns are commonly used in the building and construction industry because they increase productivity, but the new study highlights the dangers faced when using these devices.

Not only is the frequency of nail gun-associated injuries increasing, the team said that public consumers are also at risk of injury.

Previous research has shown a three-fold increase in emergency room visits from consumer-related nail gun injuries from 1991 to 2005, which coincided with the availability of pneumatic nail guns to the general public. However, the latest study only found 4.6 percent of nail gun-related injuries were in a non-work-related setting.

The Queensland Employee Injury Data Base shows there was an average of 81 workers’ compensation claims for nail gun injuries each year over the past five years in Queensland. Each of these cases resulted in an average of 15 days off work.

"Whilst nail gun injuries involving the skull, chest and abdomen have been reported, the vast majority of injuries occur to the upper and lower limbs,” the researchers wrote.

Nail gun injuries take place most often in a contaminated environment, and each of the nails can contain metal barbs or may be coated with polymer or plastic. The nails could also be injected into the body in a way that could cause marked soft tissue damage.

Injuries from nail guns can cause direct damage to soft tissues, tendons, and bones and can result in infections and septic arthritis. The team said that out of the 87 cases identified in this study, 58 percent underwent surgery, 32 percent were treated solely in the emergency department, and 10 percent were transferred to a private facility.

The researchers also found that 14 percent of operations included cases that had tendon, joint or neuromuscular involvement, while 20 percent had retained foreign material. Surgery for nail gun injuries is generally short and safe and involves the removal of embedded material, repair of structural damage and a sterile washout.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 28,000 out of 28,600 workers injured by nail guns in 2005 were men with a median age of 27-years-old. This study found that four percent of nail gun injuries among workers resulted in fractured bones.

The CDC recommends the following to help prevent nail gun injuries: use full sequential trigger nail guns; provide training; establish nail gun work procedures; provide personal protective equipment; encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls; and provide first aid and medical treatment.