Pneumatic nail guns produce loud “impulse” noise peaks in a range from 109 to 136 dBA.

Pneumatic nail guns produce short (less than a tenth of a second in du­ration) but loud “impulse” noise peaks: one from driving the nail and one from exhausting the air. Most nail gun manufacturers recommend that users wear hearing protection when operating a nailer.  Available information indicates that nail gun noise can vary depending on the gun, the work piece, air pressure, and the work setting. The type of trigger system does not appear to affect the noise level. Peak noise emission levels for several nailers ranged from 109 to 136 dBA. These loud short bursts can contribute to hearing loss. Employers should provide hearing protection in the form of earplugs or muffs and ensure that they are worn correctly. Employers should also ask about noise levels when buying nail guns—studies have identified ways to reduce nail gun noise and some manufacturers may incorporate noise reduction features. 

The NIOSH and OSHA limit for impulse noise is 140 decibels: above this level a single exposure can cause instant damage to the ear. NIOSH recommends that an 8-hour exposure should not exceed 85 dBA and a one-second exposure should not exceed 130 dBA without using hearing protection.

Source:  Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2011-202, OSHA Publication Number 3459-8-11

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