For those who are handy, safety is no accident when doing repairs and making improvements in the home. More accidents occur in the home than in the workplace. To help you practice safety first, here are some suggestions from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
"Take no chances with injury," said Russell, Harris, MD, of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Always wear appropriate safety equipment, and observe safety advice and proper use of equipment. Establish a routine that makes safety automatic, and never use a tool you are unfamiliar with or perform a task you are unqualified to do."
When using hand tools, doing home improvement, painting, or plumbing, you can avoid careless injury by using the right tools for the job and making sure you have proper training for equipment.
Always maintain and use personal safety equipment for eyes, lungs, ears, hands and feet when your work involves hazards related to them. Install or repair equipment only if you're qualified, and never do electric work unless you're qualified. Also, be knowledgeable of first aid and keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand.
- Wear appropriate dust masks or a respirator when particles are airborne or chemical fumes are present.
- Wear earplugs or full ear protectors if exposed to loud noise from power saws, drills, or other workshop machines.
- Use appropriate gloves to protect your hands.
- Wear hard-toe or safety steel-toe shoes to protect your feet when working with heavy parts or machinery.
Use a tool only for its intended purpose, applying the force it was built to withstand. When working with machinery, tie back long hair, wear close-fitting clothing, and remove jewelry. Never drink alcohol when operating equipment or using power tools.
- Maintain tools in proper working condition and perform proper, routine maintenance. Regularly inspect tools, cords, and accessories, and immediately repair or replace broken equipment and tools.
- Only use attachments authorized by the manufacturer.
- Never alter a tool in a manner that reduces its safety.
- Keep tools, equipment, and supplies neatly stored in locked cabinets or drawers between uses.
- Avoid distractions when using power equipment.
- When using a cutting tool, always aim the edge away from your body.
When using a ladder, remember to think "safety" first. Inspect it to make sure it's in good working condition, and always use the right type of ladder. Place it on firm, even ground. Face a ladder when climbing up or down, and hold the side rails with both hands. Never stand on the top rung. Keep aluminum ladders away from power lines, and never use them to do electric work because they conduct electricity.
"Make work areas as safe as possible," said Dr. Harris. "Never leave garden tools or extension cords lying around, and return tools after each use. Establish and maintain proper lighting levels, and replace electric cords that are frayed or the insulation is breaking."