Expert tips on how to master safe DIY and avoid Doing Yourself In

By | January 29, 2019

DIY accidents cost the NHS over £220million a year in hospital visits, a survey has revealed.

Folk doing up their homes have required emergency care for everything from injuring themselves with power tools to falling off ladders.

Research by found many accidents lead to people taking up to three days off work to recover.

So how can you avoid making a DIY SOS call?

Here’s our handy guide to making improvements around the house – safely.

Have a plan

Be realistic and don’t tackle a job unless you really have the ability. Get qualified workmen to carry out gas and electrical work.

Plan your jobs carefully, measure up several times, clear your working area and have all the right tools ready before you start.

Ensure you know where your stopcocks and fuse boxes are.

Keep kids and pets well out of the way. Have a first aid kit handy.

Dress sensibly

Always wear appropriate clothing – nothing loose or baggy – but lots of pockets can be handy.

Remove any jewellery that could catch on equipment and ensure long hair is tied back.

Around 30,000 eye injuries a year are caused by DIY so always wear safety glasses or goggles.

Drill in safety glasses

Power tools can reach around 100 decibels and noise about 85dB can damage your hearing. So wear ear plugs or protectors.

Wear the right kind of gloves. Paints and stains have solvents in them so it’s best to wear latex gloves. If you’re stripping furniture, you’ll need chemical-resistant ones or leather for brick and timber work. And always wear gloves if using a power washer to clean your patio – as the jet can peel off your skin.

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Get a hard hat if you’re breaking plaster and some safety boots to protect your toes.

Up a ladder

When using a ladder, always stick to the 4-to-1 rule.

For every 4ft of ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall or object it is leaning against.

Always read instructions and warning labels regarding weight and height – many accidents happen because a ladder is too short for the job.

Do not lean to one side on a ladder as you could lose your balance and fall and NEVER step on the top two rungs.

Take a breath

When painting or using materials that generate toxic fumes or dust, keep the room well ventilated and do not smoke.

A mask keeps dust out of your lungs

With some big sanding jobs you may need to use a box fan on the window to suck out the debris.

There’s an extra danger when sanding old paint – it may contain lead. But any dusty work can damage your lungs, so wear a mask or ventilator.

Beware the hidden killer, asbestos.

It was used extensively from the 1950s to the 1980s so you may find it at home on garage and shed roofs, as gutters and down pipes, in bath panels, floor tiles or as linings for ceilings, walls and doors. Breathing the dust can be extremely dangerous, but it’s fine if left well alone.

A tool for every task

Always use the correct tools for the job. Buy equipment made to a British or European standard. Store tools in a safe place, using cover guards on saws, knives and chisel blades.

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When using knives, always cut away from you. If any of your tools has a loose head or handle, replace them. Save your thumbs from a hammering by using pliers to hold the nail for the first few strikes.

Power tools

Look for the CE mark when you buy electrical equipment and always read the instructions carefully. Before you plug it in, check the switch is OFF.

When working with power tools, use an RCD (residual current device). The circuit breaker protects against the risk of electrocution or fire by switching off electricity automatically if there is a fault.

Buy tools with a CE mark

This could happen if you cut through the cable when mowing the lawn and accidentally touch the exposed live wires or if a faulty appliance overheats causing electric current to flow to earth.

Never handle electrical equipment if you’ve had alcohol or are drowsy from taking medication.

Drilling Drill

When using a power drill, choose a model with a plastic non- conducting body. Unplug it before fitting parts and remove the chuck key before switching it on.

Always use the correct drill bit. Begin by applying light, steady pressure – if you have to press hard you’re probably using the wrong bit.

Don’t drill into a wall until you’ve checked for electrical cables or water pipes behind. You can buy a multi-purpose Digital Wall Detector for around £20.


Never stand in front or beside a lawnmower and pick up all potential flying objects, such as stones, toys and debris, before you start.

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Read the manual and only use one that has protection over hot and sharp parts. Never lift a mower by the bottom for transport; the blades can still cut you.

Always stay behind a mower

Wear gloves, long trousers and sturdy close-toed shoes. Never insert hands or feet into the mower to remove debris.

Never cut grass when it is damp. Do not pull a mower backwards or stand beside it while mowing.

Protect your back

Lifting heavy things like planters or patio furniture is a two person job. Remember to use your knees for lifting to prevent injury.

Fire safety

Keep a chemical fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink or in a utility room and know how to use it. Never use water to put out a fire in an electrical appliance. Remember –gas and electrical work is best left to a registered professional.

Take your time

Don’t rush as you’re more likely to have an accident. Know your limitations and consult a professional if you are unsure.

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