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How to safely operate a nail gun


The invention and implementation of the nail gun has been something of a godsend in terms of ease and speed of work for a wide range of businesses and organisations. However, despite advantages they may give, they also pose significant risks of accidents at work.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nail gun accidents figure high in the upper echelons of all woodworking accident statistics.

Some of the many industries and companies that have benefitted enormously from adding the nail gun to their armoury include:

  • Bed manufacturers and pallet makers
  • Shop fitters
  • Woodwork such as timber framing

Nail guns typically come in one of three categories, ranging from the small, battery operated devices, to large tools using butane gas to get the power necessary.

The majority of accidents with a nail gun at work reported to the HSE arise from their use in the timber industry. These types of nail guns have a number of safety features but, unfortunately, accidents can, and do, still happen.

For example, the nose guard needs to be retracted a certain distance before the firing mechanism can be activated when the nose is pressed firmly against the timber.

They also tend to not have repeat firing capabilities, meaning that additional nails cannot be fired until the trigger has been reset.


According to the HSE, there are five main causes of nail gun accidents

  1. The operator places themselves in the danger zone because of the angle of the gun and their stance. For example, holding the timber between your torso and the gun.
  2. A worker accidentally setting the gun off during maintenance or an inspection, having not disconnected the mechanism or removed the nails first.
  3. A worker carrying the gun with their finger on the trigger and accidentally knocking into something
  4. The employee placing their hand too close to the point of impact on the timber
  5. Deliberate pranks between workers that go wrong. E.g. Firing the nail gun at a colleague

Comprehensive and up to date training is required for anyone who may have to use a nail gun at work, and all safety regulations need to be obeyed at all times.

Accident Advice Helpline can offer practical guidance and support to anyone who has suffered an injury at work. With years of experience in work accident claims, their team of experts are usually able to settle out of court. Call us free on 0800 689 5659 phone.