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Trade Group Stresses Four Work Habits for Safety When Using Power Fasteners
The International Staple, Nail and Tool Association (ISANTA) recommends a number of safety measures related to safe use and operation of pneumatic fastening tools.
Date Posted: 11/3/2003
Power nailing tools have been used in the pallet industry for quite some time for both pallet manufacturing and pallet recycling operations.
As they are used in related industries and by homeowners for construction purposes, power nailing tools have been applied in the pallet industry to assembling new pallets and fastening repair stock to used pallets.
Injuries from power nailing tools have increased significantly in recent years. According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 8,700 injuries attributed to power nailing tools or stud drivers in 1997. The number rose to 10,500 in 1998 and increased to more than 14,600 by 2001.
Many injuries involve instances where nails are discharged into fingers or hands, observed Mary Alexander, who wrote about nailing tool safety recently as president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Other injuries include deep punctures of the head and torso.
Scott Charnas, a
The International Staple, Nail and Tool Association (ISANTA) recommends a number of safety measures related to safe use and operation of pneumatic fastening tools. Its recommendations were developed in cooperation with the Construction Safety Council.
ISANTA stresses the following four primary habits for workers using pneumatic fastening tools:
Tools have trigger options that are most effective for particular jobs.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger.
Do not hold or carry the tool with your finger on or near the trigger unless you are nailing or stapling. Injuries occur inadvertently when people are simply moving about, getting into position to do fastening, or trying to clear a nail jam with a finger on the trigger.
Each day an estimated 1,000 eye injuries will occur. To protect from work-related eye injuries, OSHA requires that workers who are exposed to eye hazards wear safety glasses that meet the requirements specified in American National Standards Institute, Z87.1. The glasses must have ‘Z87’ printed or stamped on them.
Working safely means knowing as much about the tool as possible. Simple mistakes, such as trying to use the wrong size and type of fastener, can result in an injury from flying fastener fragments or from an improperly driven fastener.
Additional safety rules from ISANTA for power fastening include:
Use only regulated compressed air and never exceed the maximum recommended air pressure. Ensure that the compressed air supplied to the tool is clean and dry. Dust, moisture and corrosive fumes can damage a tool. An in-line regulator filter and lubricator increases tool life. Cleaning with compressed air is dangerous. You should not use the compressed air for cleaning.
All body parts should be kept at a 4-inch radius from the point of entry. Knots, splits or the grain structure of the wood can cause the nail to drift to one side or the other as it is driven and pop out of the board virtually anywhere. When ‘bounce-firing,’ do not let the rhythmic motion of the tool get ahead of your hands or feet.
Do not squeeze the trigger unless the tool’s workpiece contact is safely engaged against the work. Do not drive fasteners too close to edges, and stay clear of knots. When working near edges or trying to achieve precision placement, use guides and tools specifically designed for the application. Never shoot fasteners into the air for any reason.
Before removing a jammed nail or servicing a nail gun, always disconnect it from the air supply. A tool that’s been temporarily disabled by a jammed nail or other malfunction will be instantly awaiting your next command at the precise moment the jam or malfunction is fixed.
If you alter the design of a tool, you could be creating an unknown hazard that could seriously injure you or someone around you. Qualified individuals who are authorized to do the work must conduct repairs to the tool. Altering any tool is dangerous.
Before using the tool, inspect it for proper operation. If you find something wrong, do not use the tool. Damaged or unsafe tools must be tagged or labeled as such and taken out of service. Identifying an unsafe tool will prevent it from being used by someone else. Daily tool maintenance will ensure proper operation of the tool.
The tool should always be treated as if it is loaded. Never point the tool towards the direction of anyone and keep feet and hands away from the workpiece contact. And remember, always disconnect the air hose and remove all of the nails:
n When unattended.
n Before performing any maintenance or repair.
n Before cleaning a jam.
n Before moving the tool to a new location.
Prolonged exposure to noise caused by normal operation of pneumatic equipment may lead to hearing disorders. OSHA regulates the maximum sound level to which an operator may be exposed. Hearing protection should be used by anyone operating pneumatic equipment that exceeds OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for noise.
Eye protection must be worn at all times when operating pneumatic tools. All others in the immediate area where an air tool is being used must also wear eye protection as well. Eye protectors must meet the following requirements:
n Meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1.
n Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated condition.
n Fit snugly without interfering with the movements or vision of the wearer.
n Be durable.
n Be capable of being disinfected and cleaned.
n Be kept in good working condition.
Protective helmets that meet the specifications contained in ANSI Z89.1 must protect employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact or from falling or flying objects.
Protective footwear meeting the requirements of the ANSI Z41.1 must be worn at all times where hazards exist by anyone operating pneumatic tools.
Working with compressed air can be dangerous. Follow these rules to ensure safe use of compressed air:
n Use the proper hose and fittings.
n Use hoses specifically designed to resist abrasion, cutting, crushing and failure from continuous flexing.
n Choose air-supply hoses that have a minimum working pressure of 150 psig or 150% of the maximum pressure produced in the system, whichever is higher.
n Check hoses regularly for cuts, bulges and abrasions. Tag and replace, if defective.
n Blow out the airline before connecting a tool. Hold hose firmly and blow away from yourself and others.
n Make sure that hose connections fit properly and are secure.
n Install pneumatic quick disconnects of a pressure-release type on the tool. Do not attach a female connector to the tool.
n Do not operate the tool at a pressure above the manufacturer’s rating.
n Do not carry a pneumatic tool by its hose.
n Avoid creating trip hazards caused by hoses laid across walkways or curled underfoot.
n Do not use compressed air to blow debris or to clean dirt from clothes.
ISANTA has developed a number of different safety educational materials. Some are designed directly for workers while others are intended for qualified safety instructors, managers and supervisors, and human resource personnel.
ISANTA produced a 15-minute VHS video titled, ‘Power Fastening Safety and You: A Partnership,’ that presents the safe and productive use of power nailers and staplers. It is intended for tool users, building contractors, safety professionals, and dealers, and includes interviews with building contractors and carpenters. A PowerPoint presentation also is available.
A power fastening safety user’s guide is intended for use with a qualified instructor and the video. It stresses the four important work habits emphasized by ISANTA.
The leader’s guide contains detailed safety information to help maintain a workplace that is free from injuries caused by power fastening tools. The ‘Toolbox Talk’ contains information to be used in conjunction with a qualified instructor and provides an employer with documented proof that it is committed to safety and is conducting regular safety training for employees.
ISANTA also has available safety information in a wallet card format for each worker.
With the exception of the video, all the above materials are available from the association’s Web site, www.isanta. To obtain a copy of the video or for more information, contact ISANTA at (708) 482-8138.