Even though there are a lot of jokes made about health and safety, there’s no disputing the fact that modern workplaces are much safer than their historical counterparts. Admittedly, that’s not all due to health and safety, technology has also helped a lot. It does, however, illustrate the importance of keeping health and safety in mind when performing tasks. In the workplace, there are people who insist on this. At home, it’s down to everyone to manage their own self-discipline.
DIY can be dangerous
Even basic DIY tools can deliver serious injuries. Hammers are heavy, screwdrivers can be sharp, utility knives are very sharp and drills can go through more than just plaster and wood. Power tools can do even more damage. Then add in ladders and you have a further hazard.
People of all ages need to take these risks seriously, but older people are particularly at risk. This is because the ageing process makes our bodies more susceptible to injury, for example, our bones become more brittle. We also need longer to recover from injuries.
This doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing DIY as you get older. It does, however, mean that you need to take its risks seriously and either address them or pay someone else to do the task for you.
Risk number one – inappropriate tools
If you’re going to do DIY then you need the right tools for the job. These need to be up to the task but still manageable. The nature of hand tools means that it’s basically impossible for them to go out of control (although you can mishandle them).
Power tools, however, are another matter. Even though many of them do have useful safety features, for example making you keep your finger on a power button while you work, it is still very easy to have accidents with them, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing.
Basically, if you don’t have the right tools for the job, then it’s probably a good sign that you should be calling in a professional. If you don’t have them, you probably don’t know how to use them. Unless you’re prepared to learn how to use them and keep using them over the long term, then they’re probably a waste of money anyway, so you’d be better off all round just using a professional.
Risk number two – not using appropriate safety equipment
You need proper safety goggles (not swimming goggles) and gloves for most DIY jobs and for some safety trousers, boots and/or helmets are also a very good idea (if not essential). Even something as apparently harmless as sawdust can give you serious problems, for example, if it gets in your eyes and/or nose.
Risk number three – overestimating your skill level
Watching a YouTube video may get you through simple jobs, but it won’t give you the hands-on experience you need for more complex ones. Just call a professional.
Risk number four – overestimating your physical abilities
In addition to overestimating your physical abilities, there’s also the risk of being complacent, or just plain lazy, about using equipment properly. For example, it may seem easier just to keep stretching from a ladder than to get down, move it, and get up it again.
Risk number five – ignoring environmental hazards
When doing DIY, you need to be able to see properly and you need adequate hearing (e.g. to pick up on fire alarms). You need to think about whether there is any water present or any power lines (or, worse still, both). You need to check for slipping and tripping hazards. Last but not least, you need to make sure that any people around to help you are actually helping you and not just disturbing your focus.