An April 2008 investigative report in the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee has brought to a rolling boil the long-simmering dispute between the building industry and safety experts over contact-triggered (or “bump-fired”) pneumatic nailers.

While some might fault the report’s tone as overly sensational — a good part of it dwells on graphic descriptions of injuries and interviews with family members of fatally injured workers — it raises a question that can’t easily be dismissed: Is the speed and convenience allegedly gained by using contact-triggered nailing worth the tens of...

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