Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

DIY Safety

In a former career I was a also a health and safety person. I mostly did chemical safety, but other stuff was there as well. Some incidents that have happened to friends or their families recently prompt me to write this post.

Now that people are needing to be frugal and do a lot of their own home maintenance themselves, there are a few basic safety precautions that really have to be observed. Your DIY job doesn't come with a safety inspector, so it's up to you to keep yourself safe.

Musculoskeletal and back injuries make up most of the non-fatal workplace injuries. Sprains, tears, breaks, fractures, etc. are risks that used to be even more common in the building trades. Most of these come from lifting and "slips, trip and falls".

When doing DIY projects, you are often using "consumer grade" equipment, not rated for heavy use. Don't overload it, and check it over each day before you use it. It's less expensive than the "pro" stuff for a reason. Also, if you left that wooden ladder out in the weather all year, even if it's "pro", don't use it until you've checked every rung.

Don't go free climbing stuff like you did when you were a kid. You aren't any more, and your center of balance has probably shifted. Make sure your ladder is well seated/footed, and have a spotter (and someone to hand you the tools that you forgot to carry up with you.) Do not climb on the top steps of that ladder - borrow a longer ladder! Do not lean to the side of the ladder to reach stuff - as you shift your balance to reach farther, your feet push the ladder the other way, out from under you. Move the damned ladder.

When carrying stuff, don't hurt yourself with lazy man's pains - if it is too heavy/bulky to carry all in one load, break it into two loads or more, or get a helper. You probably have an unemployed friend who could use a meal and something to do. Same thing goes for lifting, only more so: lift properly, with your knees, not your back, and if it's too heavy, stop. Wrecking your back for a DIY project is dumb. Get a helper.

Power tools can cause serious injuries - I personally know people who have lost fingers or nearly been scalped. Pay attention to the safety warnings and use the proper guards. Use safety glasses, unless you like shit flying into your eyes. It's also a good idea to let people know if you're going to be working on heavy stuff, just in case. BTW, even things like nail guns are power tools.

Paints and chemicals have their own hazards. Even the paints advertised as "water based" and "water clean up" can be bad to breathe, and definitely are not fun to get in your eyes. Wear the safety glasses when painting, priming or varnishing - the sight you save may be your own. Also, make sure that you have adequate ventilation where you are working. While snorting fumes may be fun for some, it is not healthy, and can cause very permanent damage. To find out what precautions you need for what you are using, read the container that it came in, and also look up the manufacturer's safety advice on the web. Don't transfer more than a "working" quantity to another container without the labeling. No one likes to find "mystery" containers two years later and not be able to remember what was in them.

Commercial cleaning solvents are similar to paints in their ability to get in your eyes and in your lungs. Also, they can react with each other quite nastily, so don't go mixing them! Leave the chemistry to people who have the training.

Electricity is also something that people start messing with without thinking first. Yeah, I know people who've survived some impressive jolts. Don't try to top them. For simple repairs, be sure to disconnect the device you are working on first, and mark it so no one will come along and reconnect it. Make sure that grounding connectors are still there when you're done. For complicated stuff involving changing household wiring, please call an electrician. The fire you prevent may be your own.

Plumbing can be easy, but can cause a lot of damage really quickly. Not just to your house from water damage - I don't know how many people get banged up trying to wrench on stubborn plumbing and have it suddenly give. Brute force can be over done, and can mess things up in the long term, so do try alternate methods. If you have to brute force it, think about what your body will do when it does finally yield. However, don't mess with gas plumbing unless you actually are trained on flammable gas piping. "BOOM" is not a sound of success.

This list is by no means comprehensive, and is an overview intended to help you to think about safety.

I seriously don't want to read how you bunged yourself up on a DIY project when a bit of safety precaution could have prevented it. I don't want to read about your exciting ER visits for tool/chemical inflicted damage from DIY projects. I like you to much. So be safe. If you wonder about how to do something safely, ask me, and if I don't know I'll try to find out for you.

Permission to link/crosspost granted as long as source is cited.


Latest Month

January 2019


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner