Doing your own home improvement projects and maintenance can be rewarding: In addition to saving money, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a task yourself. But accident rates for DIY enthusiasts might be higher than you think, so practicing some basic safety precautions when you’re using power tools, ladders, and blades is important. It can be easy to forget to use your personal protective equipment when you’re in your own garage, but avoiding serious injury can depend on it, so here are some best practices when you’re working on home projects.
Ladder safety is at the top of the list for preventing injury. Falls from ladders can be painful at best, and deadly at worst. Always make sure your ladder is the right size for the job you’re doing. If you can’t reach to perform the work without standing on the top two steps, your ladder isn’t tall enough. In addition, using a ladder that’s not opened all the way so that the spreader bars lock in place can cause the ladder to move while you’re on it. Also, using a ladder on uneven ground is not recommended because the ladder can rock back and forth.
Always maintain three points of contact and try to keep your limbs and weight as close to the frame of the ladder as possible to avoid tip-over accidents. If you’re using an extension ladder, make sure that for every four feet you go up, the feet of the ladder are one more foot from the wall. This will make sure that your ladder is at the proper angle to support your weight. Here are more tips for how to make your ladder safer and easier to use.
It should go without saying that wearing safety glasses while you’re using power tools is recommended, but they can be easy to forget. Placing a pair in a prominent place near where your power tools are kept is a good way to remind yourself to put them on before operating tools that could send dust or particles up into the air, and consequently your eyes. Make sure the safety glasses you’re using have a stamp on them that says Z87 or Z87+. This label means that the American National Standards Institute rated your eye protection for use with tools. Using sub-par eye protection can result in the glasses breaking or otherwise not being effective at protecting your eyes.
If you’re handling material with any sharp edges or debris that could have nails or hardware sticking out of it, you should always wear gloves. Cuts from metal and puncture wounds are notoriously difficult to clean, and in addition to being uncomfortable, they can also cause infection. Using sturdy leather or synthetic puncture resistant gloves can save you a possible trip to the emergency room.
Outdoor electricity and utility safety
If you’re doing a project outdoors, always make sure to call 811 before you do any digging to avoid accidentally disrupting buried utilities or puncturing septic or underground oil tanks. Make sure to stay well clear of power lines, as well. Most overhead power lines require at least ten feet of clearance, but it’s always good to stay even farther away from them then that.
Proper ventilation for dust and fumes
If you’re working inside, make sure to stay on top of ventilation and dust collection. If you don’t have a good shop vac, use a dust mask and make sure to clean up dust as you go. If you’re using chemicals for anything that produces fumes, you might need to do it outdoors, or ventilate your indoor space as much as possible. Regular dust masks don’t protect you from fumes, so don’t rely on a mask for this like for spray paint or lacquer thinner.
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