With the rise of YouTube, it’s easy to feel like we can all tackle any project we set our minds to… since there’s already a tutorial out there on how to do it. While you may be inclined to start handling all the renovations you’ve been daydreaming about since you saw your brother-in-law’s new kitchen that “only took two weeks to finish,” remember that saving a little money is not nearly as important as not getting hurt in the process. In 2016, there were 29.2 million emergency room visits in the U.S. due to unintentional injury. Prevent yourself from becoming a statistic by following these tips for safety when working on a project around your house.
1) Focus on PPE and forget fashion
Personal protective equipment (PPE) are items designed to safeguard you from accidents associated with the work you’re doing. These items are categorized by the type of harm they prevent, from respiratory protection (like dust masks) to eye protection (such as safety goggles). The type of equipment you select should directly reflect the type of project you are undertaking.
Additionally, the clothing you select before you suit up in your PPE should be thoughtful as well. Most people understand it’s a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes when working with tools, but take it a step further and consider how your outfit might interact with your work. Using power tools? It’s best to avoid wearing loose sleeves or dangling jewelry that could get caught in moving parts.
2) Identify your workspace and set it up for success
Selecting the area you will be working in is a major step in DIY safety. Consider the size and scope of the project. Every potential work environment should have adequate lighting, but there may be additional considerations, like ventilation if you are using a drill or saw. Inspect your equipment and see if there is an opportunity to make your job a little easier and safer, like choosing tools with dip molded handle grips, which help prevent slipping during use.
3) Be aware of your surroundings and make sure others are too
After choosing your location, thoroughly investigate the workspace to know what hazards may be present. Uneven floors, low-hanging lighting, and unmovable furnishings are all factors that you should mentally note before starting your work. If you have children or a spouse that may be tempted to enter the space while you are working, notify them about what the project entails and what safety measures they should take before coming in the area.
4) Know where everything is and have it accessible
Planning is everything if you want things to go smoothly while you’re crafting or building. Determine all the items you’ll need for your project in advance and lay them out neatly so you don’t have to go searching for something while you are in the middle of your work. Getting distracted leads to more accidents, so be prepared with everything you will need. Hint: It’s a good idea to have your just-in-case supplies around as well, like a fire extinguisher if you’re doing wood burning or welding.
5) Clean up as you go
This tip will not only keep you safer, but also make the end of your project significantly easier. Picking up scrap pieces of material as they are created will reduce tripping hazards. This counts for dropped tools as well. The more you tidy as you go, the less potential risk involved.
6) Slow down, seriously
Rushing through a job results in two things: lower quality than you are capable of, and a higher chance of injury. Dial it back and make sure every move is intentional and planned. The saying “measure twice, cut once” reminds us that it’s worth spending the extra time checking our plans to prevent making a mistake that is harder to repair. Mistakes can frustrate even the best of us, and getting flustered can, again, lead to more opportunity for accidents. Do yourself a favor by planning a realistic timeframe to finish a project, allowing for breaks when necessary with more demanding work.
The best way to avoid injury is to plan for the worst case scenario. Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to have a successful, safer DIY project.