Gun Safety?

Nail gun accidentWe have been so fortunate that there have been no major injuries on the job site.  There have been scrapes and bruises, but nothing with life-long impact for anyone involved.  We took *most* of the appropriate precautions, and maybe good fortune smiled on us.

There was, however, an incident involving a nail gun that should serve as a reminder to keep the safeties on.

Curt was working alone, in a hurry, attempting to finish up the attic stairs so he could take Perry fishing.  Perry was looking for his fishing pole in one of the sheds on the hill, and Kian and I were at my sister’s house on the hill, feeding her dog.  The last person to use the nail gun had set it for automatic firing, and Curt had kept it that way, thrilled with how much faster he could work.

Nearly finished with the framing, Curt opted not to climb down the ladder for a clamp, and simply held the board he was nailing in one hand while leaning at an angle to nail it in place with the other.  As it sometimes happens when a nail gun is set on automatic, the gun bounced and triggered a second time.  This nail went through Curt’s thumb joint and drove into the palm of his hand.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, he was up on a ladder by himself, with no one around to drive him to the hospital.  He stayed calm.  He walked up the hill to get me (Deborah).  He knocked, and Kian told him to wait.  He held his hand to the window so Kian could see the urgency.  In spite of her own panic, Kian had the good sense to put the dog behind the gate before opening the door.  After all, if the dog had gotten out, the ordeal of getting to the hospital would have taken much longer!  With the nail still sticking through his thumb, he waited patiently while we put the dog in her crate and locked up the house.

We took Kian home.  Then, Curt waited longer while I located Perry.  While I scoured the neighborhood, Curt snapped a photo.  You are welcome to see it, but let me warn you: I personally find it much harder to look at the photo than I did looking at the real thing.  If you still want to see it, click here.

At the hospital, we waited some more.  Eventually a nurse gave Curt a tetanus shot and a doctor pulled the nail out.  X-rays revealed soft tissue damage only.  The nail had gone right through the joint, missing the bones entirely.

We learned a few things from this incident:

Nail gun incidents are common.  Curt was lucky he didn’t nail his hand TO a board while he was all alone up on a ladder!  Considering his angle when it happened, he’s also fortunate that the nail went into his hand instead of his chest.

Take your time and use clamps.

Keep the safety on!