I recently saw an interesting story by my friend Rob Robillard about a run-in one of his co-workers had with a framing gun. It included all the usual advice about how to avoid such injuries – which you probably already know – plus some things I hadn't thought about.
First the stuff you already know:
• Don't nail with the gun pointed at you.
• Whenever possible, use the gun in sequential fire
• Wear hearing and eye protection
As for the part most tradesmen I didn't think about: What do you do if you are unlucky (or careless) enough to shoot a nail into yourself or a coworker?
• Sit or lied down immediately. It's not uncommon to pass out after such an injury and the fall could be worse than the original injury.
• Don't remove the nail yourself. Go to the emergency room. Why? Because even if it did not hit something vital – like a blood vessel, nerve, bone, or tendon – you can do additional damage pulling the thing out. And the medical pros are in a position to clean the inside of the wound and administer antibiotics that can prevent an infection that could be worse than the injury itself. Don't believe me? Look up osteomyelitis (bone infection) on the web – but not if you're eating or have a weak stomach because it looks pretty bad.
• Get someone else to drive you to the emergency room. Why? Because if you pass out you don't want to do it behind the wheel.