Nail Guns Often Sold Without Safety Advice: Study

Most staff offer buyers little guidance about using these hazardous tools

SATURDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Store employees in businesses that sell nail guns don't seem to know much about them or how to use them safely, researchers warn.

This lack of knowledge about these potentially dangerous tools is cause for concern, the team from Duke University Medical Center said. They noted that more than 35,000 nail gun-related injuries are treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments each year.

For the new study, the researchers visited 217 businesses that sell or rent nail guns and posed as consumers who wanted the tools for a home project, such as framing a deck or fence. The businesses were located in North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois and Texas.

The sales staff were given an opportunity to volunteer safety information about the tools. If they didn't do so, the researchers asked a general question about the safety of the nail guns. If accurate safety information was still not provided, the researchers then asked specific questions about the nail guns and the risks involved.

The investigators received some form of misinformation about the safety of nail guns at 75 percent of the businesses, even though 62 percent of the salespeople had previously used a nail gun. About 59 percent of the salespeople failed to offer any safety advice.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

"It's alarming that a consumer, whether it's a contractor buying for their working population or a home user buying for their own use, doesn't get better information -- particularly given the devastating nature of some of these injuries and the risk of 'stand-by' exposures to other workers or family members," lead author Hester Lipscomb, a professor in the occupational and environmental medicine division, said in a Duke news release.

More information

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers nail gun safety tips.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Duke Medicine, news release, April 14, 2011

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