Nail gun safety came into focus during a recent Cal/OSHA investigation of an April 17 accident at a Lake Forest worksite in which a carpenter was seriously injured.

The worker, who was using an air pressure-powered nail gun to frame wood, was carrying the nail gun in his right hand with his finger on the trigger when a nail was unintentionally discharged into his left arm.

Lack of training

Cal/OSHA determined that Circle M Contractors employees did not receive hands-on training for operating nailing tools safely and that the Rancho Santa Margarita-based employer did not ensure workers carry nail guns only by the handle and not with their finger on the trigger.

Cal/OSHA issued two willful-serious accident-related citations with a total of $225,500 in proposed penalties.

A history of nail gun injuries at company

Cal/OSHA’s review of the employer’s injury log showed 34 instances of nail gun injuries suffered by employees since 2016.

“Employers must effectively train workers to safely operate dangerous tools such as nail guns,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “The employer knew these tools are hazardous and did not take the necessary measures to protect their workers from injury.”

In 2015, Cal/OSHA investigated after a Circle M Contractors worker installing hanger brackets slipped and discharged a nail into his knee. Cal/OSHA cited the employer for failing to ensure workers carry nail guns only by the handle. It was one of three investigations of Circle M Contractors that year following accidents in San Diego and Irvine. One worker fell nine feet while setting roof trusses and another worker fell from the second floor while removing guardrails.

Framing a high hazard industry

Cal/OSHA has conducted over 570 inspections of framing contractors since 2015. This industry has appeared on Cal/OSHA’s High Hazard Industry List each year from 2015 to the present. The list is compiled yearly based on injury rates so that Cal/OSHA may target employers in high hazardous industries with the highest incidence of preventable workplace injuries and illnesses.