When it comes to injuries you’ll find DIY is one of the biggest causes of homeowners heading to the hospital. Frequently using of Power Tools cause frequent power tool accidents. Check out our previously published article about 5 Frequent Power Tool Accidents. Around 200,000 people a year are seriously injured enough to need hospital treatment, and that number is probably far higher if you include injuries from electrocution, falls, and those who chose not to go to the hospital. Projects that have been named as the most likely causes of injury include carpentry work, roof repairs, electrical work, cleaning gutters, and simple household fixes. Here we discuss the Essential Tips for DIY Safety and include the alternate tips.
The biggest danger to safety when doing DIY work is the distraction. It takes a fraction of a second for an accident to occur and worst case scenarios can be fatal. There are around 70 deaths a year from basic DIY projects. Ladders are the number one cause of deaths by DIY each year, even those who are trained in ladder safety and who professionally use them are still guilty of skipping basic safety measures.
Essential Tips for DIY Safety
Regardless of how comfortable you feel doing your DIY projects here are a few tips that can make sure you make it out alive and with your project perfect.
1. Have a Medical Kit Handy
You should have a medical kit at home, and with the basic cuts and scrapes, you’ll likely encounter a first aid kit is simply a necessity. Similarly, you should also stock it with larger gauze pads and compresses in the case of bleeding and larger lacerations. A medical kit should have antibiotic ointment and band aids at the very minimum as well as an eye wash solution.
2. Safety > Fashion
While the pros on television might look glamorous working on their projects fashion and safety do not mix. Wear comfortable clothing that is practical. Avoid loose items like jewelry or clothing that is too baggy and may get caught. Wear non-slip shoes and items with reinforcement if necessary.
Steel toe boots are a good idea if you’re working with heavy items. Similarly, use safety glasses at all times as debris can cause blindness and regular glasses may shatter from debris. If you are working on a job that is especially dusty you may need a respirator rather than a simple gas mask, look for their APF rating to make sure that you’re filtering a number of particles needed to breathe safely.
3. Read the Instructions
Even if you’re very familiar with the tool you’re using make sure you have read the instructions or have watched tutorials about her project you are starting. Making assumptions is no better than guessing and this can lead to mistakes and accidents. Most tools come with manuals and it’s especially important to familiarize yourself with the information there if you haven’t used them before. The internet has lots of information available and it’s free.
4. Use the 4:1 Rule
Ladder placement is very important when it comes to safety. The 4:1 rule is that for every 4 feet of ladder height the bottom of the ladder needs to be 1 foot away from the object the ladder is leaning against (wall, tree etc). Not every ladder needs this rule, many step ladders have built in locks so you know the ladder is opened to the correct ratio.
Also, make sure that the feet of the ladder are firmly on the ground and that the surface is not slippery. If possible make sure you have someone to hold the bottom of the ladder sturdy as well. Do not use aluminum ladders for electrical projects as they can conduct electricity and cause electrocution in the case of a fault.
5. Be Aware
Not paying attention can get you killed. While working focus on the job at hand and avoid distractions. Keep children and pets away from the work area so they do not knock anything over or get hurt themselves. This will also help you stay focused. When working with tools that are turned on your focus should be 100% on the tool in front of you. Similarly, you must not step away while tools are running or plugged in. Do not leave tools or projects unattended or leave the room without securing hazards first.
6. Check First
When using any electric tool check the tool and the connections first before switching it on. Electrocution is one of the main accidents that happen using power tools and it’s easily avoidable. If your tool has more than a hairline crack or has frayed cords it should not be used.
Do not carry tools by the cord as this can pull it out and disconnect it by holding the plug and not the cable for the same reason. Check the area before starting work for safety hazards such as loose cables, liquids, or sharp edges. Proper tool maintenance and storage can avoid many of these issues.
7. Clean Up
A clean space is a safe space. Proper storage of tools once you’re finished with them will help keep the work area tidy and give you fewer hazards. Tools should be stored in cabinets or out of children’s reach. This includes extension cables and small bits.
When you have finished with a project sweep the area so debris can’t get tracked into an area where someone may get splinters. Use lots of lighting when working so you can see what you’re doing (remember guessing is bad) and see any hazards clearly. You’ll also want to dispose of broken tools so that you aren’t trying to use them by accident. Label them clearly as broken before discarding or recycling.
8. Choose safe tools
While the UL has standards as to what safety features are the bare minimum for most tools many are literally at the bare minimum. Opt for tools that have safety cut offs, guards, bumpers, and lockout options so that you’re protected while working with them. Similarly, avoid disabling guards for the sake of speed.
9. Never Guess Electricity
The current flowing through your house can kill you. Always check projects with a volt meter first so that you don’t get shocked and avoid having liquids around when working on exposed wires. Never work with electrical projects on an aluminum ladder and wear rubber shoes. Do not use damp tools and if you do not sure opt for a professional instead. If you’re working outside around electrical cables call your local utility company and have them mark the lines below the ground to avoid digging by mistake.
10. Know your Limits
If you’re not sure about a project don’t risk it. Roofing is an especially common one for many homeowners to try on their own, but a fall can be fatal. If the project you want to tackle is out of your expertise don’t feel ashamed to call in the professionals.