With the latest figures from NHS Digital revealing that there were 62,895 hospital admissions in 2017-18 related to DIY accidents such as falling from ladders, contact with non-powered hand tools and falling through floors, Jason Orme, property expert for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show, advises people on how they could sharpen their home improvement skills while staying safe.
Don’t rush it
With so many resources available online to show you how to do DIY, the number one reason for accidents or poor work is not the result of a lack of skill, but of trying to get everything done in a very short amount of time. When you cut corners, it’s either your safety or the quality of the job that’s at risk. If you approach DIY methodically, by taking time beforehand to do your research, anticipate what resources you need and how much time you should put aside, you minimise the chances of being caught off-guard. Regardless of the type of work that you do throughout the house, the same rule should apply to all areas.
It usually comes down to time – if you are tired at the end of a long week at work and then try to do these projects at weekends, when you have a three-hour window to finish them, inevitably you won’t be thinking about every single cut and the mini actions which go into the project, so that’s when you’re rushed. If people are quite tired physically and mentally, it becomes a strenuous activity, muscles fade and the weakness sets in. Professionals which do this day in, day out have the muscle memory and the stamina to take on board these projects. For DIYers, everything is new so there’s a higher likelihood of an accident.
Use the right equipment
Mistakes can happen when you also don’t have the right tools to hand and when you don’t use enough protective gear. Proper work trousers are a good starting point; these can be bought from DIY sheds for £30-50 and are a good investment, as they can stop the common scratches while offering you durability and comfort. Eye protection is also critical, while good ear plugs come in very handy for people who use disc and tile cutters.
I also recommend paying plenty of attention to the quality of the air which surrounds you. If you deal with adhesives and sealants, grout, cement etc. without wearing well-fitting gloves and a face mask, you might develop breathing problems or your skin could become irritated from all the dust in the air. Professional builders wear protection as a matter of course, so inexperienced people are even more required to do so. If painting in closed environments, you can get headaches if they aren’t ventilated. To avoid this, consider buying low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, available in specialist shops. You can also purchase dust-free net sanding discs, which when combined with the right tool and an extractor, will virtually eliminate dust.
Ask for help
DIY jobs, although they imply tasks that you can do yourself around the house, can benefit from an extra helping hand. Don’t hesitate to ask when you need someone at the bottom of the ladder to hold on to it, or when you need assistance in lifting something heavy off the ground. You could also benefit from a considerate, calm opinion from someone more objective than you, but be careful who you involve in the process as a lot of people or children around can actually interfere with your focus and do you a disservice.
If alone on a ladder, take your time and make sure it’s at the right angle. When climbing it, don’t overstretch yourself without extending it, as the chances are quite high for an incident to occur. Better still, if you’re using it constantly, consider investing in a ladder that’s flexible and can adapt to your needs without putting you in danger.
It’s not just about having the right tools – you also need to have the right space to work in, where everything is organised and within easy reach. Especially when working in tight areas such as a bathroom, some people tend to leave everything in there and then struggle to manoeuvre, and this is when things can go wrong. Remove everything that’s unnecessary at the start of a new task – from storage solutions to untangling cords and decluttering tips, you have all the information a click away.
If you set your mind to deal with the basics and allow as much time for this part as you do for watching DIY tutorials, you are a step closer to completing your projects in time and in one piece.