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Don't Do Yourself An Injury When Doing It Yourself

Don't Do Yourself An Injury When You're "Doing It Yourself" This Summer

Summer's a great time to get stuck into those jobs around the house, but before you power up your tools or climb a ladder, spare a thought for your safety.

"Being off work with longer daylight hours and reliable weather means you can dedicate serious attention to DIY," said Katie Sadleir ACC's general manager, Injury Prevention.

"But unless you want to include a trip to the A and E among your summer activities, you should pay the same amount of attention to home DIY safety as you would to safety on the job."

ACC receives around 10 thousand claims each year from people injured doing DIY work. Last year, nearly two thousand of those were moderate to serious injuries.

"But it doesn't take a great amount of work to avoid injury. Here are some top tips to staying safe during DIY," Ms Sadleir said.

* Keep your workspace uncluttered and the floor clear of obstacles; have regular clean-ups, and arrange some extra storage space if needed and invest in cordless tools or at least secure electrical cables against the wall.

* Ensure there's adequate lighting; can you read a printed document in your work area? If not there's not enough light, you could do yourself an injury or strain your eyesight.

* Keep tools in good condition; Check that the handles on your hammers, files and screwdrivers aren't split or loose, that your spanners don't have splayed jaws, or that your chisels don't have blunt or 'mushroomed' cutting edges. If any of them do, replace them.

* Install a smoke alarm in your work area; especially if you're using electrical equipment.

* Keep emergency equipment handy; always keep a fire extinguisher on hand, and your First Aid kit well stocked.

* Use and store hazardous substances correctly; get a Material Safety Data Sheet so you know how to store these properly. Remember, you may know not to drink or touch them, but children don't.

* Use an RCD when outside; a Residual Current Device could save you from being electrocuted when using power tools outside.

* Reduce excess noise; use hearing protection when using power tools, lawnmower, or even a hammer. Your hearing is easily damaged, and it's irretrievable.

* Use personal protective equipment; wear a hard hat, eye goggles, ear muffs, respirators, dust masks, overalls, boiler suits, gloves, and safety boots where appropriate. Your safety is more important than your appearance!

* Be sun smart; you may not be sunbathing, but you will get burnt if you're working outside. Cover up and use sunscreen to stay safe.

Falls from ladders are a common cause of injury for New Zealanders, with almost 30,000 people injured each year while using ladders, so Ms Sadleir advises DIYers to use their ladders properly.

* Check the condition of your ladder frequently; does it have loose, missing or broken parts?

* A ladder is an access tool, not a work platform; use scaffolding or trestles if you have to stand in one place for a long time

* Position ladders at a 1:4 angle, meaning one metre out at the base for every four metres of height

* Place your ladder on a firm, level surface and have someone hold it, or place blocks behind it to prevent it from slipping

* If possible tie the top end of the ladder to something stable to prevent it from moving, and tie it as close as possible to the point where the ladder contacts the upright surface

* Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times, i.e. two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand

* Use a toolbelt or builder's pouch to carry tools up the ladder

* Always face the ladder and never come down with your back facing the rungs

* Don't overreach sideways; try to keep your belt buckle between the uprights

* Never climb higher than the third rung from the top.

"There is a lot to think about when it comes to staying safe during DIY," Katie Sadleir said. "But it's not hard if you put some thought into how you're going to do the job before you start doing it."

"Also, never take shortcuts on safety. Remember, quality of life is much more important than the quality of finish! So keep safe, and have an enjoyable and productive DIY summer," she said.


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