Safety first! Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to DIY, these tips will help you prevent disasters on projects big and small.
IF you follow our facebook page, you know that Co-owner Levi Pino likes to share his experience buy providing an inside look on home improvement projects of varying skill levels. Growing up in a construction family and having owned his own home renovation business for the past 10 years, He knows that proper safety precautions can make or break a jobsite. Sometimes, literally.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have come to the conclusion that safety measures don’t need to be followed when the project is small. As some have learned the hard way; that is NOT the case. No matter your skill level, it’s never a bad idea to take a few precautions. Doing so will provide you with soundness of mind as you work.
Keep fire extinguishers up to code and at the ready. Most extinguishers are equipped with a gauge, so you know when it needs to be recharged or replaced, which is always a good idea; even if you’ve never had to use it. Immediately take care of oil or solvent soaked rags, and store them in an airtight, metal container with a lid, preferably half-filled with water. Dispose of the rags according to your community’s guidelines. Leaving the rags to “dry out” is never a good idea, as any combination of sunlight, heat and fresh air can easily cause them to combust.
As a good general practice, keep a basic first-aid kit in any area of the home where you’ll be working — your garage, kitchen, workshop, outdoor shed, etc. Routinely check the kit and replace expired or low supplies. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic first-aid treatments, which are usually included with the kit. Make sure the kit is appropriate to the type of work you’ll be doing. For example, a box of bandages may suffice for your office space, but it probably isn’t the best “kit” for a workshop or garage. Many people aren’t aware that an FSA account can be used for things like first-aid kits.
Bright overhead lighting is ideal, and task lighting can greatly improve the safety of the environment and the outcome of the project. LED lighting is inexpensive and readily available at most hardware stores. If the workspace is in a room where lighting is more of a design element, e.g. the family room, light should be supplemented.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Basic PPE usually consists of safety glasses, hearing protection, a mask and gloves. Other protective gear may be suggested depending on the project location and the tools you will be using. For example, you may need a hard hat if debris is expected to fall from above; or a respirator when working with hazardous fumes or particles. The best way to ensure that you actually use protective gear is to have it readily available and on hand. The relatively low cost of these items is well worth it. After all, when it comes to our health, there is so much of it we can’t get back after it is gone.
In all the excitement of a project, it can be easy to let the mess pile up. The more clutter and debris you allow to pile up, the more likely it is to harm you or others. Use a drop cloth when spraying lubricants to avoid creating an oil slick, sure to trip you up long after the project is done. If you are using tarps or drop cloths, tape or weight them done in such a way that they won’t easily be tripped on. Taping electrical cords to the ground is also a good idea.
You Snooze You Lose
Did you know that being overtired can slow down your reaction time by 50%? That reaction time is the difference between saving your fingers or losing them. Other factors to consider are drowsiness or impairment related to medication or alcohol. In our opinion it’s not worth the risk; the project will be waiting for you when you’re alert and well rested.
Although it may be tempting to wear sandals and shorts on a hot summer day, rethink your choice of clothing when working on a project. This is especially important when working with power tools, which can quickly turn an enjoyable afternoon into a disaster. In addition to your Personal Protective Equipment (safety glasses, ear plugs, gloves, mask) make sure you’re wearing closed-toe shoes, remove loose, dangling jewelry or clothing, and tie back long hair. It’s especially important to wear ONLY natural fibers when working on anything electrical.
It only takes a few minutes to protect yourself. Use common sense, and you’ll be fine.
Generally, painting is among the safer of the home improvement projects – just don’t forget to ventilate the room. Open windows and use fans. If you’re working in an area that’s difficult to ventilate, consider wearing a respirator and working in shorter intervals. If you ever feel yourself becoming dizzy or light headed during a painting project, STOP; get some fresh air and rehydrate. If that doesn’t work, take a warm shower washing hair and body thoroughly.
Read the Manual
It’s definitely the least appealing aspect of getting a new tool. But in our experience, it’s just a good practice to read the instruction manual that comes with any new tool or piece of equipment. Sometimes, this comes with perks! Many instruction manuals highlight features or uses of the tool that aren’t common knowledge; giving you an opportunity to make the most of your investment.
YouTube is fine to consult for DIY ideas or how-tos. But remember that not all tools and equipment are made the same. So, the tools used in the video will most likely differ from your own. This being the case, make sure you understand how your model works.
Keep distractions to a minimum, especially when working with harmful chemicals or power tools. Keep children and pets clear of the work area. If this can’t be achieved, make arrangements for them to be supervised elsewhere or put the project off for another time. This not only benefits the one working, but also the pets and children.
Additionally, always unplug your tool before making adjustments to it, such as switching a saw blade. If you turn off your home’s power to work on an electrical project, make use of the “lock out, tag out” protocol. This will allow you to finish your project without having to worry that someone is going to turn the power back on.
This should be and is the number one rule. It means that no job or DIY project is more important than your own safety and well-being. Studies have shown that the vast majority of work related injuries can be avoided if proper precautions are taken. Over the years, stigma has surrounded PPE and safety precautions; labeling them as “time wasters” or “for the inexperienced”. This is not true, as far more accidents have been prevented than not, by putting safety first.
If you always put safety first, you’ll have great success with your DIY projects for many years to come.