Safety Reminder

The spring is a great season to tackle DIY and home improvement projects , see our article on specific tasks you should think about, Whether you’re considering putting down new turf in the garden or repainting the outside of your home, you’ll save a lot of money taking on these projects yourself.

However competent (or incompetent) you are, before you rush out to dust off those power tools read our safety tips to reduce the risk of damaging yourself and innocent bystanders!

DIY can cause accidents

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) collected data relating to accidents from DIY. The survey found that more than 200,000 people were hospitalized in the UK due to DIY. Most of these accidents involved tools and the most common accidents were with knives and scalpels, saws, then grinders, hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, power drills and finally, axes, planes and welding equipment. RoSPA blamed the majority of these accidents on over-ambition and the inexperience of DIY-ers.

Know the risks before you start a project

Spend a few minutes thinking through the job and the hazards involved, for example heights, harmful chemicals, electrical shocks, loose pets or children. Take steps to reduce the risks, keep children and animals away from the area you are working in, think about running cables along walls rather than across rooms and ventilating areas where you are going to be using paints, solvents or other chemicals.

Power Tools

If you are using power tools make sure that you know what you are doing. I know blokes normally don’t read manuals on principle but it is essential to have read it if the tool is new or you haven’t used it for a while. Check things are connected correctly, the right way round and are tightened to the right level. The manual will also warn you about inherent risks associated with the tool – cutting devices can give you potentially dangerous kick back so you need to brace for this, drill parts can become very hot and some parts need regular replacement or drops of oil.

Wear sturdy and protective clothing

Don’t underestimate the importance of protective gear when carrying out a project. Safety glasses help to shield your eyes when you’re working with striking and cutting tools and sanders. Masks protect you from touching and breathing in dangerous chemicals and fibre and dust particles. Invest in a pair of sturdy work boots, and don’t forget to wear ear plugs when working with power tools.

Toxins & Poision

MDF that cheap and handy wood composite produces a dangerous dust when it is cut and sawn so wear a mask. Paint strippers, sprays and solvents are all highly flammable and can cause irritation and black outs if used in poorly ventilated areas. Wood treatments often produce toxic smoke when burned so if you have wood that you think is treated take it tot he tip don’t put it on the bonfire.

Be vigilant for asbestos, which is a very hazardous material. Exposure to asbestos can cause long-term health problems and mesothelioma – a type of cancer which affects the lungs. Due to the prevalence of asbestos in all but the newest homes lots of people have been affected and made Asbestos compensation claims as a result – so make sure you will not be at risk. Read our article to help you identify the risks and get more information or help.

Weedkillers have varying levels of toxicity so always read the label. Take an extra few minutes to put on a mask, gloves and goggles before handling these chemicals as all can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. If you spill any on your skin then wash the area immediately with lots of cold water. If you breath in a lot or swallow any get to causality. Keep these chemicals clearly labelled and well out of reach of kids.

Be smart when working at height

Whether you’re looking to clean out your gutters or spruce up your home with a fresh coat of paint, working at height presents a big safety risk. If you’re working with a ladder, make sure to prop it up against a flat, firm surface so that it will stay balanced as you climb, and if possible, have someone spot you from below. Never go up onto the roof or carry out other outdoor projects at height in poor weather conditions. Never work on ladders or at height if there is no one else close by – if you do fall you need to be able to get help.

Take extra care with electrical outlets

Without proper knowledge, working with electrical outlets can be potentially leathal so make sure to closely review the manufacturer’s instruction manual before you get started. Never work on a live circuit, use your homes fuse box to turn off the power to the circuits you are working on. Make your skin and the area you are working in is dry. Wear rubber shoes and have a chemical fire extinguisher handy to put out an electrical fire in case something goes wrong.

Keep your work area tidy and clean up responsibly

Maintaining a tidy work area may prevent you and others in your home (especially the kids) from being put in harm’s way. Put the cap back on all cleaning materials and properly stow away sharp cutting tools and other dangerous equipment when it’s not in use. Use proper ventilation in rooms where you are using strong chemicals, and make sure you know how to responsibly dispose of hazardous materials so that you don’t wreak havoc on the environment.

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