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DIY Safety in the Home

The time of the year for accidents?

According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA):

Every year in the UK more than 6,000 people die in accidents in the home and 2.7 million turn up at accident and emergency departments seeking treatment.”

This is the time of year where people start looking around in order to tackle the outstanding DIY tasks that have built up. Bank holidays like the one just past in the UK tend to be a busy period for stores such as B&Q and Homebase; three days off work and we believe we can transform the house in the style of DIY SOS – they do it in a couple of days and make it look so simple!

However, how safe are we being? Most of us truly believe that accidents will only happen to someone else.

Stop for a minute and think it through

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Become NEBOSH qualified in construction safety

You might scoff at the simplicity of this point but it’s amazing how often such a common sense step is ignored. Really thinking about what you’re doing before beginning a DIY task rather than running on autopilot could be the step that ultimately prevents an unpleasant trip to the hospital.

How many of us pull out the “trusty” stepladder (you know, the one we got from Grandpa’s house ten years ago) and totter on the top of it, overreaching because we want to reduce the times we have to get down and actually move it? How many of us actually check it is stable, suitable or even safe before we precariously balance ourselves and a 10 litre paint pot on the top?

What we desperately need to do is just stop for a minute and really think about the consequences of falling.  How high will you be and what could you fall onto? Is it really worth the risk?  Not to mention the damage 10 litres of paint can do if you drop it.

For starters, make sure you are using the right tools, that they are in good order and that you make the area safe. Under the wrong circumstances hedge cutters and chainsaws can be lethal – make sure that children, pets and neighbours are well away from where you are working before you do anything.  The same goes for any other tools with moving parts; be sensible and think about how you will control the pieces of an object you are cutting off, considering where they will fall, if the debris presents an additional danger such as a trip hazard and – obvious as it should be – if you’re taking a saw to the branch you’re sitting on…

For the would-be mechanics as well that are taking the bank holiday as an opportunity to “pimp their ride”; make sure the car is secure if you’re working underneath it by using appropriate jack equipment or ramps.  Welding can give a nasty dose of arc eye too so please protect your eyes with an appropriate mask and ensure sparks are not in close proximity to any flammable materials, gases or liquids.

Finally, dispose of rubbish responsibly with consideration. Rags with paint or cleaning fluid can combust spontaneously if left outside in hot sun – as I’ve found out the hard way.  Luckily all I lost was an old garden shed but it could have been a lot more serious.

Returning to RoSPA’s advice to round things off; “accident prevention is easy, relatively inexpensive to deliver and can make a high impact especially for those most vulnerable“.

Being safe does not mean you can’t do things, it just means you need to be sensible about how you do them. Apply a little extra consideration to your working habits and your DIY projects can be realised exactly as planned.

Victoria Hughes

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