When starting any DIY project safety has to be your first consideration. The work area should be kept as clean and tidy as possible, anything from tools left lying around to building materials, paint etc can create an unnecessary hazard not only to yourself but to other adults, children and pets.
Lots of cleaning products, solvents, paints and adhesives etc, can give off harmful vapours and may be corrosive enough to burn skin. With these and similar products you should, as the saying goes, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL, the instructions usually include :- use in a well ventilated area, use eye protection , a mask and protective gloves. Be careful when smoking as a lot of these products can be very flammable. When you have finished using the product(s) they should be kept well out of reach of children and preferably locked away in a safe container or cupboard. Always wash your hands after using materials, solvents etc don’t use as an example white spirit for cleaning paint off your hands, use a good skin cleanser.
Read all the safety information and instructions that come with the tools you are using and always wear the appropriate safety equipment, it generally costs very little and can save you a trip to the local hospital A & E department or worse. Don’t forget to wear decent footwear, a pair of steel toe cap boots when the DIY project includes construction are a must.
Access equipment i.e. stepladders, extension ladders, scaffold and platforms need to be in a good well maintained condition, the majority of accidents that occur are from falls, a lot of the time these accidents can be easily avoided by simply using common sense. All ladders should be on good ground and as level as possible.They should be against a solid surface not a window frame or sill. When using extension ladders the 4 to 1 rule should be applied (a ladder 4 metres high placed against the wall means the bottom of the ladder should be 1 metre away from the wall). Never overeach and don’t stand too far up the rungs or treads. A lot of new steps or ladders are fitted with an extension bar fitted at the base thus increasing their stability, if this is not available get someone to ‘foot’ and steady the ladder. If possible tie off the top of the ladder or scaffold tower, again this reduces the risk of the ladder slipping or the ‘tower’ toppling over. When using scaffold towers you should receive instructions or drawings to show how it should be properly erected, as the majority of ‘towers’ will be from hire companies.
Have a good look around the work area to see which services could cause a hazard, there may be live cables, gas and water pipes hidden in walls or buried in plaster. Isolate and shut off these services as required but make sure they cannot be switched or turned on again by accident.