7 Common DIY Accidents
It is estimated that up to 300 people a week are arriving to A&E having being injured in a DIY related accident. Whether at home or in the workplace, when tackling any DIY project, safety should always be number one priority.
However, sometimes mistakes can happen, so we’ve found 7 of the statistically most common DIY accidents and our top tips to make sure any occurrence of these accidents is kept to a minimum.
Falling Off A Ladder
Any work that requires you to be above ground level carries a degree of risk, but adding a ladder into the mix or trying to replace a ladder with a completely dissimilar object, will increase that risk.
According to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from ladders make up almost a third of all injuries in the UK, and cost the UK economy and the NHS in particular millions every year.
Aside from circumstances that may be out of your control, there are many ways that you can risk assess your ladder to ensure optimum safety before you commence any work from a height. The first step being making sure your ladder is on firm and level ground, or placing a sheet of load bearing wood underneath the ladder to ensure a completely firm and level surface.
If you are using an A-Frame ladder, make sure it is fully extended before use and possibly ask someone to be your spotter if you feel it’s necessary. The most important and often neglected step of the ladder safety process is choosing the right size of ladder for the job you’re undertaking.
It is recommended that your ladder should be slightly higher than you may need to avoid over reach and possible loss of balance.
Cuts and Scrapes
DIY involves working with many sharp tools and machines that can lead to anything from a small scrape to more severe injuries. The HSE estimates that around 40,000 injuries are caused by machine operated tools per year.
The HSE goes on to state the fact that if every workplace had the correct protective guards on these tools, they would save an estimated 250,000 working days per year due to a reduction in injuries.
There are many simple ways to avoid injury when operating these kinds of tools, such as wearing heavy duty gloves specially designed for this kind of work, so even if the tool did slip, it would not reach past the glove.
However, the best way to ensure you are operating these tools safely is to make sure the blades on them are properly sharpened, this process is particularly vital when operating hand tools.
When using blunt tools, we tend to put more pressure on the tool to break through the material we are trying to cut, therefore if the tool slips, a greater force is propelled towards your body, leading to possibly a more severe injury. To avoid this, make sure all tools are properly sharpened, take your time, and all fasteners on the tool or machine are as tight as they can be.
Electrical Shocks & Burns
According to Injury Lawyers UK, in the year 2017/18, 315 suffered serious injuries while carrying out electrical work. The danger in electrical work lays with the number of injuries that it can cause with such little voltage. In research conducted by the HSE, a voltage as low as 50 volts can cause serious injuries if the electricity is applied to specific parts of the body that cause the current to run through vital organs.
Electric shocks can occur in a number of simple ways, such as static created by walking across a carpet, but as powerful as this static is, the current does not flow for long enough to cause damage, so this is not a concern.
In the case of electrical burns, the same process occurs in which the electrical current flows through the body, but burns occur when the current heats up and burns the tissue of the body. Burns are more likely to occur when working with higher voltages but there is still a risk of burns when dealing with malfunctioning domestic electrical outlets and supplies.
The best way to prevent electric shocks and burns is simple, throughout the entire duration of the work, turn all electrical sources off. Even when work isn’t taking place, all wires that will remain exposed during breaks in work periods, must remain off.
Just like any other manual or construction job, it is important to wear the correct protective equipment. In electrical work, this includes wearing non flammable clothing when working with or near wires. It is also incredibly vital that you are working with the correct tools, and the tools you are using are designed to be safe around electrical currents.
For example, it is important to make sure any cutting tools include rubber grips, as rubber is a poor conductor of electricity, therefore breaking any possible circuit between the current and your body.
Handling, Lifting & Carrying
Manual Handling is the process of lifting, carrying, moving, lowering or any type of moving of heavy objects. There are a set of strict procedures that is well known and recognised in the DIY and construction industry.
These procedures are designed to eliminate injury when carrying out any form of Manual Handling, so if they are not known and well understood, you open yourself up to the possibility of injury. It is usually common practice for most work places to put their employees through manual handling training, but standard at home DIYers are not so fortunate. According to UNISON, one in three accidents in the workplace are down to incorrect Manual Handling.
There are five steps to remember to execute perfect manual handling, illustrated in the image.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Although it is a common occurrence in everyday life, slips, trips and falls are just as much of a hazard, and in some cases even more so. According to reports released by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), 29% of non-fatal workplace injuries occur due to some form of slip or fall.
Although it may seem obvious, it is just as important to remember safe practice involving slips, trips and falls as it is for any other DIY hazard. Starting simple, make sure there are no objects on ground level that you could possibly trip and fall over.
In terms of spills, it is important that someone is stood by the spill at all times and a wet floor sign is used.
Spills should be cleaned up using the correct materials as soon as possible, whether that be with a mop or cloth, or absorbent powder for larger and more hazardous spills.
You can take this further by placing an anti-slip board in pathways between the inside and outside of your home or workplace to avoid a build up of slippery substances brought in from outside such as rainwater and mud.
An extra step you can take is securing any exposed wires to walls or floors with high strength tape, like duct tape or electrical tape.
Various Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can occur when undertaking many forms of DIY work, from sawing to electricals, but this can be one of the more overlooked types of DIY accident, therefore very few use the protection that is essential to avoiding these injuries.
According to statistics published by the Home Accident Surveillance System (HASS), around 30,000 people a year are admitted to hospital with serious eye injuries, and thousands more with more superficial eye injuries. Obvious consequences of eye injuries include reduced vision, blindness and even eye loss.
It must be noted that standard glasses will not be enough to protect against injury while doing any form of DIY, luckily prescription goggles are available on request.
The safety around eye injuries is twofold, the first being preventing injury, which can be easily done by wearing protective goggles that, whether prescription strength or not, conform to British standards of safety.
The second is taking the necessary steps to treat any injury should it happen, and depending on the injury, going to a professional for medical treatment.
In the case of debris getting stuck in the eye, the advice is universally clear in that you should under no circumstances start rubbing your eye to try to remove the foreign object, as this can cause scratching and further injury.
Instead, it is suggested that you lift your upper eyelid outward and gently pull it in, over the lower lash. This technique will create tears and should wash the object out of your eye, you may have to do this several times.
Another alternative is to purchase an eye bath, these can be found in pharmacies and even in supermarkets. If the object or particle is embedded in to the eye, do not try to remove it as this can cause further damage, seek the help of a professional.
Clothing Getting Caught In Power Tools
Power Tools can be a dangerous piece of equipment on its own, so any other risk factor added just creates a higher chance of an injury. According to figures released by the NHS, 4,800 people were admitted to hospital for power tool related injuries in 2019 alone.
Due to the nature of the mechanisms inside most power tools, loose articles on your person will get trapped and wrap around the machinery, and because these tools are so powerful, this will not create enough of a blockage to stop the tool from working completely, so it is a race against time to either turn the machine off or alert someone so that they can do it for you.
If action is not taken immediately, serious injuries can occur very quickly.
To prevent an injury when using power tools, make sure you are wearing no loose clothing, particular items of clothing like ties and shirts, as these items will be closest to the tool itself. This along with wearing appropriate protective clothing will ensure a safe experience when using these tools.
It is also important when operating any power tool in general, to read the instruction manual to make sure you’re aware of how the tool operates when in use.
The unfortunate reality is that many people every year are injured by taking on DIY work, either through lack of safe practice, or circumstances that are out of your control. If you follow our safe and effective tips, the risk of injury dramatically decreases.