NIOSH, Nail Guns, and Consensus Standards: Where We Stand
May 14th, 2015 6:53 am ET - Brian D. Lowe, Ph.D.; Stephen Hudock, PhD, CSP; Scott Earnest, Ph.D., P.E., C.S.P.; and Christine M. Branche, Ph.D., FACE
Recently, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) released a revision to ANSI SNT-101, “American National Standard for Power Tools – Safety Requirements for Portable, Compressed-Air-Actuated, Fastener Driving Tools (ANSI SNT-101 2015 )” (i.e., nail guns). NIOSH participated in the consensus process used to revise the standard. In all stages, NIOSH recommended changes that were consistent with the current scientific research about the safety risks attributable to nail guns, and interventions that are available to reduce them. Despite NIOSH’s participation throughout the consensus process, the revised ANSI standard does not reflect current scientific research evidence and is therefore not sufficiently protective of workers. We encourage stakeholders to rely on NIOSH publications on nail guns for the most protective recommendations concerning nail gun safety.
On average, each year from 2001-2005, approximately 22,000 workers suffered injuries from pneumatic nail guns (PNGs) severe enough to require emergency department treatment. During the same period, approximately 14,800 consumers annually suffered injuries from nail guns that also were severe enough to require emergency department treatment. The growth in PNG use and the alarming increase of traumatic injuries from 2001-2005 prompted NIOSH’s work on nail gun injury prevention. With the decline in residential building subsequent to 2006, and fewer construction workers using nail guns, the number of PNG injuries in the construction industry appears also to have declined. It is less clear, however, whether the rate of PNG injuries (injuries per number of hours worked) in the construction industry has decreased. NIOSH prepared and published guidance on this topic for contractors, Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors (co-branded with OSHA), and for workers, Straight Talk About Nail Gun Safety. Both documents are available in English and Spanish.
The revised ANSI standard makes minor improvements on the 2002 version, including providing definitions of nail gun actuation (trigger) systems, which has been modified to include additional explanation of the trigger systems. A revision was needed because clear distinctions have emerged since 2002 in traumatic injury risks between different types of trigger systems. Release of the revised standard provides a timely opportunity to highlight critical safety-related considerations. NIOSH recommends that:
NIOSH has invested over a decade of research studying nail gun injury causes and how to prevent them. For a full list all NIOSH nail gun safety information products please visit the Nail Gun Safety Topic Page.
Brian D. Lowe, Ph.D.; Stephen Hudock, PhD, CSP; Scott Earnest, Ph.D., P.E., C.S.P.; and Christine M. Branche, Ph.D., FACE
Dr. Lowe is a Research Industrial Engineer in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.
Dr. Hudock is a Lead Research Safety Engineer in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.
Dr. Earnest is Deputy Director for the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health and Coordinator for the Construction Sector
Dr. Branche is Principal Associate Director and Director, Office of Construction Safety and Health.
NIOSH acknowledges the contribution of Matt Gillen, retired, in leading the development of nail gun policy and encouraging a stronger safety standard for nail guns.
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