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Keep Safety In Mind When Spring Cleaning Outside

17 September 2008

Keep Safety In Mind When Spring Cleaning Outside, Says ACC

The longer days and improving weather will be the signal for many New Zealanders to start their outdoor spring clean to clear away the debris of the recent wild weather.

But cranking up little-used chainsaws and clambering up ladders can lead to a nasty injury, especially if the person is unused to the equipment and lacks the skills to do the work safely.

In the year July 2007 – June 2008, more than 5600 people were moderately or seriously injured after a fall from a ladder or stepladder used at home, while two people each day on average are injured after using a chainsaw at home. In all, 22,000 people injured themselves at home using some kind of tool – that’s 63 every day.

Other common areas of injury are:

• 9,793 claims were made involving a fence, railing or wall
• 101,811 involving the ground or a path
• 20,139 involving a plant, bush or tree

``At the end of winter – especially one with the ferocity that we’ve just endured – we all want to get out into our gardens and clean up ahead of the spring growth,” said ACC’s General Manager for Injury Prevention, Katie Sadleir. “But sometimes we are tempted to do jobs, or use tools, that we don’t have the strength or the skills for. And more often than we think, that can end in an injury.’’
``We know from research we did around the recent Safety NZ Week, that while 55 percent of New Zealanders consider there to be a risk of injury at home, only 15 percent think an injury could happen to them. But the fact is, 650,000 New Zealanders were injured at homes last year, and 12% of those are while doing DIY.’’
1. Know your capabilities and that of your equipment – call in the experts if you don’t have the skills, and always use the right tool for the right job.
2. Watch out for tripping hazards – that includes being careful that what you’re carrying won’t trip you up.
3. Ensure there’s adequate lighting – don’t work into the dusk when you can’t see clearly what you’re doing
4. Check that your tools are in good condition – that means cutting edges are sharp and their handles aren’t loose or split.
5. Keep emergency equipment handy – that includes a well-stocked First Aid kit and a fires extinguisher.
6. Use and store hazardous substances correctly – always refer to the manufacturer’s safety and handling information.
7. Use a Residual Current Device when outside – this could save you from being electrocuted when using power tools outside.
8. Reduce excess noise – your hearing loss is irreversible, so reduce excessive noise or wear hearing protection when using noisy equipment like a lawn mower.
9. Use certified and approved personal protective equipment – for example protective eyewear, hard hats, eye goggles, appropriate respirators, overalls, boiler suits, gloves, and safety boots. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
10. Wrap up warm: It’s still cold out, and cold hands and fingers make it difficult to grip, while cold feet make it easy to trip. Working while you are cold also increases your risk of strains and sprains.

And if your spring clean involves ladders, remember to:

• Always check it for broken or missing parts before climbing up.
• Position the base at one metre out, for every four metres of height.
• Place it on a firm level surface and make sure the feet are secure
• Keep three points of contact at all times – e.g. two hands and one foot. Use a tool belt or builder’s pouch to carry items up the ladder.
• Always face the ladder and don’t over-reach! Keep your belt buckle between the uprights.


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