5 top safety tips for DIY tasks at home

tools

Even though lockdown measures have started to ease around the UK, right now we’re still all broadly confined to our homes. It’s probably no wonder, then that DIY has been on the rise recently – and you may be sizing up one or two jobs yourself. Thinking about a new laminate kitchen worktop, or tackling that garden decking project? Now’s the perfect time! Before you get started though, we’ve got one or two useful safety tips for you…

Make sure you’re dressed for the job

This is quite an obvious one, but it’s still one that some homeowners can still be occasionally cavalier about – so it’s worth saying! PPE is obviously a big one. Whatever the job is that you’ve got in mind, you’ll need to ensure that you’re wearing the right protective equipment. If you’re using power tools for example, it’s always best to wear safety gloves. Eye and mouth protection is another big priority. If you’re using spray paint or there’s going to be a lot of dust drifting about, you’ll need safety goggles, dust gloves and a mask, at the very least.

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As well as your PPE, don’t forget to have a think about what else you’re wearing too. Ideally, don’t wear any loose fitting clothing, and think about whether it’s safer or not to be wearing long sleeves. We also suggest not wearing jewellery, as it has a nasty habit of getting caught on things.

Make sure that the environment’s prepared

It’s best to get your DIY done in an area that’s clean and well organised. Not just because it looks nice (although there is that) and it’ll probably get the minimum of complaints from family members, but also because of safety. A messy workplace is a dangerous one, as there can be all sorts of tripping hazards, unexpectedly sharp objects in places where you’re not expecting them to be, or the potential of spilling liquids in ways that might make them hazardous (for example, if they drip down onto live electrical sockets). Trust us – it’s worth taking the time to keep it tidy.

It’s also a good plan to consider how well ventilated you’ll need the room to be. For example if you’re using spray paint, you can’t safely do this in a room that doesn’t have a good amount of air flowing through it. Speaking of which, if you’re removing paint and you’re not sure whether or not it’s lead based, we’d always recommend getting advice from a professional.

Finally, make sure you have a first aid kit somewhere nearby – and that there’s someone on hand who knows how to use it!

Look after your tools (and use the right ones for the job!)

This probably goes almost without saying, but you should always know exactly how to use any tools you’ve got for the job. Unless you’re aware of all the safety procedures and the potential hazards each specific tool could pose, you open yourself up to a serious risk of injury. Best-case scenario, you end up making a hash of the job you’re trying to do. Worst-case scenarios can involve life changing injuries.

This is especially true for electrical tools such as drills, which need to be unplugged and switched off before you add or remove any attachments. Don’t underestimate the danger involved in even the most simple of tools either – believe it or not, blunt tools can be more dangerous than sharp ones! A dull knife, for example, requires more pressure to cut, which can increase the risk of slipping and cutting yourself. (One of the many reasons you should always cut away from your body when using a knife.)

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For the same reasons, it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re using exactly the right tools for the job, and not trying to force one of your tools to do something it’s not designed to do. You could end up damaging it – or worse, it could well end up damaging you!

And of course, make sure that your tools are always stored away again safely after each job. Not only does it help maintain their condition so they remain useful for longer, but it also prevents children or pets from potentially hurting themselves with them.

Don’t underestimate the care and caution you need for ladders

Falls from height are one of the single biggest causes of injuries in the UK, both at home and at work. This means that extra care should be taken with ladders, no matter how many times you’ve used them before. As with your other tools, you should always use the right ladder for the job (which means no extension ladders should be balanced on stairs or against interior walls), and placed on a flat surface to minimise the risk of overbalancing. Don’t forget about the less obvious bits of safety advice too – such as avoiding the use of aluminium or metal ladders if you’re going to be working around wires.

Trust your instincts when it comes to their condition, too. Old aluminium ladders can sometimes have components shaken loose or missing, while wooden ladders can end up being weakened by damp or being stored outside for long periods. Whether you find a specific problem, or you just have a bad feeling about it for some reason, don’t use a ladder that you’re not 100% confident will take your weight.

Know your limits

This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice in this entire post, because it’s probably the one most frequently forgotten or ignored. There’s an undeniable pride to be enjoyed in doing a good job on a DIY task, but that same sense of pride can also start turning it into the ultimate sunk cost fallacy when things start to go wrong. It’s not uncommon to get the urge to press on to avoid the potential embarrassment and cost of enlisting the help of a professional. But honestly, there’s a lot of wisdom in recognising when to ask for help, and it can often end up saving you money in the long run!

And of course, we’d encourage safety over speed every time. Don’t rush what you’re doing, because that can lead to mistakes just as easily as overconfidence. Also, don’t forget that there are jobs that you simply can’t do yourself. You can’t do electrical or gas work unless you’re a professional engineer with the right qualifications, as it can be deadly otherwise, and all plumbing work needs to be certified by a qualified professional too.

Happily, fitting laminate kitchen worktops and constructing garden decking are two jobs that you don’t need any special qualifications for – and best of all, we’ve got everything you need to tackle them right here at Savoy Timber. We’ve got a huge range of laminate kitchen worktops to choose from, ranging from high gloss effects to stylish Zenith compact worktops. And if you have any questions or need any advice, we’re only a phone call away on 0345 0268 799!