Everyone likes a bit of DIY - whether an amateur or someone who's been doing it for years. There's nothing like being able to look at a completed project and say 'I did that!', or get one of those niggling jobs done without needing to call in a professional. But according to NHS figures, DIY-related accidents that are serious enough to warrant a trip to a doctor's surgery or hospital can cost the NHS approx. £222 million a year. In this post we look at various tips to help keep you safe when you're considering that spot of DIY.
- Read the instructions.
If you're trying to fit or construct something that comes with instructions, read them first! The manufacturers know what they're talking about. If you need step-by-step instructions throughout the project, get someone to read them to you. Don't start using tools and then pause to read the next bit as any distraction can potentially cause problems.
- Keep working space clean and tidy.
Simple but effective! By keeping it tidy as you work you are more likely to know where your tools and materials are to hand, and lessen the risk of hurting yourself on blades or sharp points. It also means there is less tidying up to do once you've finished. Make sure that anything not in use is stored well away from the reach of pets or children.
- Use protective clothing where necessary.
Make sure that you don't have loose clothing or accessories that can get caught in anything. Most tend to wear old clothing they don't mind getting dirty or torn, or invest in slightly sturdier workwear which offers certain protections. Close-toed shoes (with a reinforced toe if possible), long trousers and close-fitting tops are best. Hats, goggles and gloves are recommended in certain activities.
- Consider risk to others.
It's not just yourself you need to worry about when working on projects. Consider whether there may be others that come into your working area or could be affected by either you (if you have an accident) or the work you're doing. Keep pets and small children well out the way.
- Work at height safely - use ladders with care.
Make sure A-frame ladders are open to their fullest extent and locked before use, and any ladders being leant against a wall are at least 1m away for every 4m of height. Surfaces should be flat and stable, and if someone can foot the ladder for you, even better. Don't leave tools on the ladder as they will probably end up on the floor if not you!
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit nearby.
Fairly self-explanatory but always make this a priority. Smaller injuries like cuts and scrapes can usually be dealt with in the home and takes the pressure off your local doctor's surgery and the NHS. For anything more serious, call NHS 111 or your local surgery.
- Familiarise yourself with how to use tools, and use the correct tools for the job.
Correct usage and maintaining the tools ensures you are less likely to have an accident, and of course means it's going to be easier and take less time than if you had the wrong tool or one with a blunt blade etc.
- If using paint/sprays or chemicals, make sure the area is well-ventilated and wear a mask.
Many varnishes and paints have strong fumes which can cause health issues, so always protect yourself against them as best you can by wearing a mask. If you're working inside, make sure all the doors and windows are open. If you feel unwell at any point, stop, get some fresh air and go back later.
- Take care and work methodically and steadily - don't rush.
Rushing can cause mistakes and you want that project to be perfect. Of course, rushing can also lead to accidents so take your time!
- Check the weather.
This might sound silly but the last thing you want to be doing is going up a ladder in torrential rain or high winds! If any of your jobs are outside, make sure the weather won't interfere or make it too dangerous to complete.
- Get specialist help where needed (i.e. gas, asbestos, electrics).
Some things really do need to be looked at by a professional. You cannot work on boilers or anything to do with gas unless you are a Gas-Safe registered tradesman, and any asbestos found in the home must be reported to the local council so it can be removed and dealt with by a licensed company. Electrics are split into two categories - notifiable works and non-notifiable. Basics like adding to existing circuits are non-notifiable and do not need to be carried out by or signed off by a registered electrician, whereas new circuits are notifiable and do. However it's always best to judge your competency at the job as the amount of DIY electrical works we've had to put right over the years can be a little scary!