Close to one third of all unintentional injuries resulting in hospitalisation occur at home. Children and the elderly are most at risk, although an inordinate number of injuries are suffered by DIY handypersons. The majority of accidents can be avoided by using the right tools and wearing appropriate protective clothing. Have you got the right protection for your DIY project? Here are some common scenarios and suggestions for keeping you and your family safe.
Working with saws, knives, nail guns and other sharp objects
Every DIY handyperson expects to suffer small nicks, cuts or abrasions at some point. However, when working with powerful tools and machinery extra caution is essential. Important pointers include the need to:
- Wear protective eyewear
- Wear protective gloves
- Wear appropriate work boots
Purchase a power saw fitted with a protective shield and always manoeuvre the blade away from you rather than toward you. Never force the cut; allow the blade to do the work for you.
Avoiding slip, trip and fall accidents
The right protection for DIY home projects includes appropriate work gear and suitable tools for the job. Falls from ladders and roofs are all too common, but most accidents can be avoided. Always use a sturdy ladder that won’t buckle and make sure it is resting on a level surface. Use a ladder of appropriate height, avoid standing on the top rung and don’t stretch at awkward angles. DIY is comfortable, safe and enjoyable when you have the right protection on your side.
Slip-resistant shoes are a no-brainer for DIY handypersons, and should be worn at almost all times while working. Ascertain the load-bearing capacity of your roof, structure or other elevated surface before standing on it. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is highly recommended, and a safety harness, lanyard and securing mechanism are invaluable devices for safely working at heights.
Understand your limitations for performing electrical work
In almost every case, electrical work should be performed by a qualified electrician. For DIY tasks performed in close proximity to dangerous electricity, a safety-first approach is important, with considerations that include:
- Turning the household electricity off when working near electrical wires
- Wearing non-flammable clothing and appropriate workwear
- Working with tools that won’t conduct electricity, such as those with rubber handles
- Keeping the work area free from all flammable materials
Play it safe with chemicals, fuels and solvents
There are a lot of really useful DIY products designed for convenience. When stored correctly and at the right temperature, chemicals, solvents and other agents are long-lasting and incredibly powerful assistants around the home. However, many strong chemicals are also toxic, unsafe to touch, poisonous and flammable.
Safe DIY includes periodically inspecting your tool shed and other storage areas. Check use-by-dates on all chemicals and fuels, make sure your storage systems are secure, and ensure that mice and other vermin aren’t getting in.
Part of the fun of owning your own home is the opportunity to put your stamp on the place with DIY projects. Your tool shed should contain high-quality protective gear for working at home or in the garden.