Our 17 year-old son got a summer job roofing. Today, one of the other workers had to go to the hospital for putting a nail through his hand using a high-powered nail gun. Naturally, now we are concerned about our son. Is this a common occurrence? Anything we can tell him that might help him avoid the same fate?

Penetrating trauma to the hand from nail gun injuries are on the rise due to increasing numbers of housing starts and, of course, home remodeling. But only 3.9 per cent of these injuries are attributed to industrial (worker compensation) injuries. The majority occur in residential carpentry.

Roofing companies are usually careful to provide safety instruction for new employees. One would expect even more so for young workers just starting out. But there are cases (in one study, seven per cent of the group) where the worker has more than one nail gun injury. So it is not a given that experience with these kinds of tools equals prevention.

Gloves, goggles, and helmets are advised. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a nail gun safety guide for construction contractors that can be just as informative for the do-it-yourself home owner. This publication is available on-line at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/NailgunFinal_508_02_optimized.pdf.

You can also access additional preventive information by typing into your search engine: nail gun safety. There are even some “how-to” instructional videos available. You will find those using the same search. Encourage your son to read the safety guide and watch at least one of the videos.