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Jamie Gibbs

How to avoid injuring yourself when doing DIY

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Each year 220,000 people end up in A&E because of a DIY mishap, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Avoid injury with our top safety tips.

Couple doing DIY

When making home improvements, not only do you run the risk of harming yourself, but you could also cause damage to your property.

With this in mind, here are the most common DIY injuries and how to avoid them. 

Cuts and scrapes

Sawing

A run-in with a knife or other sharp object accounts for almost a quarter of all DIY accidents.

To avoid this, always make cutting movements away from your body. It’s an easy thing to forget, but a slip of the mind risks a slip of the blade.

Also, wear protective gloves where you can - at least you’ll have a layer of defence if something goes wrong.

Hit by falling objects

Boxes on wall

Over 15% of DIY injuries are caused by falling objects, so it’s worth getting a hard hat to protect your noggin if you think there’s a risk that something may fall on you.

Meanwhile, toe-capped boots can provide advisable protection for your feet.

It’s also worth clearing the area before you attempt any project.

Getting rid of your clutter will reduce the chance that something will slip out of place and give your face an unexpected high five.

Dust, grit and sand

Man sanding a wall

One accident in 10 is caused by “particles and foreign objects” being either inhaled or getting into the eyes, or on the skin, causing irritation.

If you’ve ever had grit in your eye, you’ll know just how uncomfortable and debilitating this can be.

If you’re doing anything that will kick up dust or particles, do it in a well-ventilated area. Outside is preferable.

Now would be a good time to channel your inner forensic scientist and grab a set of protective goggles and face mask. 

They may fog up easily, but at least you won’t get sawdust in your eyes.

If you’re stripping Artex be extra careful as it may contain harmful asbestos. It’s probably wise to get professional advice before tackling this.

Overexertion

Man lifting a heavy sofa

Nearly 8% of DIY-related accidents are down to people reaching beyond their means.

Slipped discs, overstretched ligaments, muscle cramps – the risk of such ailments can be reduced with a little preparation.

Remember to bend from your knees and keep your back straight when picking up heavy objects.

It’s always useful to have someone with you to share the load. Don’t try to fly solo just because it’s more convenient.

If you find yourself overreaching when on a stepladder, then move the ladder closer.

The extra couple of seconds it takes to move could be the difference between getting the job done and putting your back out.

Slips, trips and falls 

Man painting a wall

Tripping over furniture and falling from a ladder each account for about 7% of DIY accidents.

Preparation here is key. Clear the area before you start so you know you don’t have to navigate a minefield when carrying heavy furniture.

When using a ladder, check the manufacturer’s instructions so that you’re setting things up properly. Don’t assume you know what you’re doing.

A nice rule of thumb to remember with ladders is the four-to-one rule: for every four feet of height you need to climb, the base of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall.

It also helps to have a friend at the bottom to keep the ladder steady.

Know when to get the pros in

Man with toolbelt

Many accidents occur due to a lack of knowledge and preparation.

However, there are some things that need a professional touch to make sure everything is done safely.

Beyond changing light switches and plug sockets, any electrical work should be done by a qualified electrician.

If you want to install double-glazing, you’ll need to call in someone who’s registered with the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA).

Even if you insist on doing the work yourself, you’ll need to have some types of handiwork checked out by your council’s building control department, which will cost you.

Don’t forget that any project that alters the outward appearance of your home may need planning permission beforehand.

Accidents do happen, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. But with enough preparation before you tackle a DIY project, you should be able to protect yourself against most mishaps.

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