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Study Reports Increased Frequency of Nail Gun Injuries in Work Settings

Nov 12, 2013

New research from Australia reports that young males in the workplace are at risk of nail gun injuries to their non-dominant hand.

In the latest Early View issue of Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Drs. James Ling, Natalie Ong, and John North, of Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital, write about the increase in injuries associated with the popular tool, according to Nail guns are commonly used in the building and construction industry. They increase working speed and productivity and are easy to operate.

An earlier study showed a three times increase of emergency room visits for consumer-related nail gun injuries from 1991 to 2005, an increase that coincided with the availability of pneumatic nail guns to the general public. In the present study, only four cases (4.6%) were sustained in a non-work-related setting.

Nail gun injuries, reports, result in a significant loss of productivity and carry serious financial cost. The Queensland (Australia) Employee Injury Data Base shows an average of 81 workers' compensation claims for nail gun injuries each year over the past five years, and each case resulted in an average of 15 days of missed work. Most of the injuries were to upper and lower limbs, though some involved the skull, chest, and abdomen.

Because construction sites are not sterile environments, injured workers also risk infection from the wound.

The study was conducted between January 2002 and July 2012. Out of 87 cases reviewed, 58 percent underwent surgery, 32 percent were treated in the emergency department, and 10 percent were transferred to another facility. In 14 percent of the cases, there was tendon, joint, or neurovascular involvement and 20 percent had retained foreign material.

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