The footy season is over and there are no more excuses for delaying the completion of home maintenance and renovation projects. Those who can’t do it themselves will hire a professional, and you can’t get much safer than that, but to the delight of many a local hardware store, this is the time of year when hordes of avid DIY fans also go shopping.
According to Australian health and safety statistics, this is the time of year when the number of accidents around the home also increases – attributed to Do-it-Yourself enthusiasts.
Falling from ladders tops the list, followed closely by injuries from power tools and machinery, with a majority of accidents being attributed to men, particularly over 55 years of age.
Authorities warn that the more accident prone among us need to realise our limitations. If a task is not within our skill level or we don’t have the proper equipment or experience for the job, then leave it to the experts.
Top DIY Tips
For the keener (stubborn?) DIY-er who refuses to heed this advice, the following tips are for you:
- Ladder Do’s and Don’ts. ALWAYS place on a level and stable surface. If you need to level one of the legs, don’t use a brick. Position timber blocks, recommended dimensions 400 x 200 x 50mm, beneath the leg. Don’t try to extend your ladder by placing it on a higher surface, like beams balanced on sawhorses, or milk crates, for example. If you need to reach a higher place than your ladder can reach, hire an extension ladder. Ensure you place the ladder against a secure surface and not somewhere it can slide or be knocked away. You can also tie the ladder in place to prevent slipping or tipping. Never stand higher than the third rung from the top, and keep your centre of gravity between the side rails. Don’t over-reach or do exertive pulling or pushing that can throw you off balance. Likewise, don’t leave heavy tools perched precariously atop of ladders, waiting to fall on the head of unsuspecting passers-by below.
- Power Tools. Safety guards, clamps and locking clips are invented for a reason. Use them. There are horrendous stories of sheet metal and timber pieces becoming flying weapons, and people losing thumbs and fingers with electric saws because they tried to rush and thought they’d save seconds by ignoring the safety requirements. Nail guns are probably best left to the professionals, but if you must use one, don’t rush. Set the gun to the safe sequential-fire setting to avoid misfiring and shooting yourself or someone else by accident if you stumble.
3. Hammering. Speaking of nails, you can avoid the risk of hammering your fingers by using a small blob of BluTack to hold small nails in place while you hammer them in. You can recycle the Blu-Tack, but not your fingers!
- Clothing. Don’t wear loose or floppy garments that can get caught in machinery. Footwear – if you value your toes, wear protective shoes – thongs don’t count. Tie your hair back if it is long and avoid wearing loose jewellery that can be caught in machinery or saws.
- Protective Gear – Do use earmuffs to protect your hearing when using noisy equipment. Use eye goggles to protect your eyes from metal and sawdust when sawing and grinding. Use a face mask to avoid inhaling dangerous substances and dust particles, especially if you’re under your house or in the roof space where you can encounter toxic chemicals from pesticide use, asbestos, mould spores, rat droppings, etc.
- Essential Services. Don’t mess with electricity or plumbing – there is a reason why it is illegal to do your own and you must hire a licenced tradesman. Non-contact voltage testers are a must for checking if wires are live or not.
- Don’t play with Pressure Washers. These are not toys and can be very dangerous. Many people with deep flesh wounds and scars where the water burst has literally painfully peeled back their flesh can attest to this!
- Know How to Lift Safely. Get help with heavy items. And remember, lift with your knees, not your back.
- Beware the Critters! We’re talking wasps, spiders and snakes that can lurk in unexpected and rarely used spaces around your home, not to mention hazards such as chewed electrical cables exposing live wires, or termite damage that weakens structures – maybe the one you’re standing on!
- No Brainer. Keep all tools and equipment away from pets and children. This should be a no-brainer.
Popular DIY Task – Deck Maintenance
A popular DIY spring job is the annual deck maintenance. If that is on your list of To-Do’s this spring, and if you have a timber deck already, chances are it is on your list and will be for the rest of your life. If you’d rather it wasn’t, then check out a composite product like NewTechWood decking. It is low maintenance – you never have to sand, seal, paint or varnish it – ever – unlike real timber which must be maintained regularly for its lifetime.
And speaking of safety, NewTechWood composite decking comes with a valuable BAL29 Fire Rating and a Rll slip rating; AND you’ll never have to worry about splinters. Also with its hidden fastener system, you will never have to worry about rusty or protruding nails, and with the option of the mini clip system, catching a stiletto heel in the decking gap is also a thing of the past.
Top this with a 25-year warranty and you can see why many DIY enthusiasts love NewTechWood, which is also fully capped providing full protection against UV damage, fading, water, staining, mould and termites. You know what this means? No more dangerous chemicals needed to treat your deck. However, while NewTechWood offers the above tips on protecting your safety… the rest is up to you!