DIY safety guide

Alongside that feeling of accomplishment when you finish the job, another of the great things about DIY is that it's generally much cheaper than hiring a professional.

While sometimes it may take longer and you may get more frustrated, often it's the knowledge that you're making a considerable saving doing it this way that keeps you going.

However, while the price should be lower, it's important to ensure you don't end up paying a different type of cost - injuring yourself while doing work on the house is not an uncommon occurrence.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), around 220,000 DIY enthusiasts end up needing hospital treatment every year.

Of these, 87,000 are hurt while using tools or machinery, 41,000 injured as a result of falling off ladders or stepladders and 60,000 end up requiring attention because of exposure to grit, dust or splinters.

Many such incidents can easily take place in the bathroom. RoSPA says floor or wall tiles are responsible for around 2,500 visits to A&E every year, while 29,400 are related to the use (or attempted use) of wood and chipboard. Finally, 15,400 people per year seem to end up hurting themselves while trying to nail something down.

With these figures, it's easy to see how DIY can become a bit of a minefield. So, how do you avoid becoming another statistic? There's plenty of precautions you can take to limit the risk you're exposing yourself to. 

Be prepared

One of the most important things to make sure of before you begin a job is that you have all of the right tools to enable you to carry out your tasks effectively and safely.

This precaution can cover quite a few different categories. For a start, you should ensure you have all the correct safety equipment to protect you in case something goes wrong. Some things are common sense - you should definitely be wearing protective goggles when cutting tiles, for example. If not, then it's quite feasible you could suffer an eye ailment when a shard flies off towards your face.

Similarly, invest in a decent pair of work gloves. These should be durable, comfortable and fit properly. The latter is probably the most important, as ill-fitting gloves can be dangerous if they were to result in you losing your grip when using power tools or lifting something heavy. 

Respirators or dust masks may also come in handy if you are knocking down a wall within your bathroom, while suitable footwear is also a must.

However, preparation also means making sure you have the right equipment to do the job. Plan out exactly what you're going to be doing and research what you'll need to get it done effectively and safely. You don't want to be trying to put up a suspended ceiling without a stepladder, for example, as straining to do the work on the tips of your toes or balancing on the top of the toilet is more likely to end up in disaster!

Finally, when planning out what you intend to do, you should do all you can to look ahead to see if there are likely to be any complications. While this isn't always possible, it's good to know if you're going to be coming up against any tricky obstacles that might make the task at hand that bit more complicated. Pipes in the walls or electric cables that need to be dealt with are good examples of how a simple job can become that bit more fiddly when you come across them.

Don't rush

Regardless of what deadlines you have set yourself to get the job finished, it's worth bearing in mind that if you end up injuring yourself trying to meet those targets, the work is only going to take longer to complete.

Another important point to take note of here is that when you rush, you're more likely to make mistakes. Many DIY accidents can be easily avoided by taking your time and ensuring the task is carried out carefully and precisely. The risk of slipping and tripping is greatly increased when the first thing on your mind is speed, rather than safety.

Similarly, working late into the night to get the job finished on time can also have its drawbacks if you start feeling tired and subsequently make mistakes or the quality of your work drops.

Know your limits

Knowing your limits not only refers to recognising when to give yourself a break, but also when the job at hand is above your expertise or capabilities.

For example, if the work clearly requires at least two people to get it done safely then you should wait until you have that second person with you before attempting it. This is a good idea not only because you are likely to get the job done much quicker, but also because if something goes wrong and an accident does occur, there's going to be someone else there to help.

In terms of overstepping your boundaries when it comes to knowledge, you should never attempt to work with electricity or gas unless you know what you're doing and you're properly qualified. This type of work should always be left to the experts as the consequences of making a mistake here could potentially be fatal.

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