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The DIY (home and garden) industry in the UK is worth nearly £7 billion, with many homeowners cutting the cost of home improvements by doing the work themselves. Over the 2020 lockdowns, DIY became a really popular pastime, especially for people who had planned contractors to work on their home but then had to cancel their plans because of the restrictions. Happily, most DIY projects happen without accident or injury, but over 200,000 people a year require hospital treatment for injuries sustained while carrying out DIY projects. Around 70 people a year are killed in DIY related accidents, with ladders being the main cause of these fatalities.
It's impossible to engineer out every risk from every job, but with some care and attention you can avoid the most common DIY mistakes that lead to serious injury or even death. It goes without saying that the way ladders are used is the most important aspect to think about when staying safe with DIY. At the same time you should also be aware of the dangers of power tools, both using them and the risk that trailing cables pose, and the accidental ingestion of paint, solvents and other substances (don't mix up your tea mug with the one full of turps!).
The most common mistakes made when using ladders for DIY are made by people who are in a rush and want to get the job done quickly. Rushing to finish a job leads to over-reaching on a ladder, rather than doing the sensible thing of descending and moving the ladder. Although in reality doing this takes less than two minutes, we don't always think rationally when we're driven to finish something and this leads to carelessness.
Working too late and long hours also makes it more likely that you'll have an accident. Again, rushing to get a job finished means putting in some extra hours into the evening and maybe even skipping dinner. You might not think that being hungry can lead to an accident, but if your blood sugar levels drop you might experience weak spells or dizziness, both of which are very dangerous when combined with being up a ladder. You might not even realise that it is getting dark until you try to descend the ladder and become aware that you can't see the rungs, leading to a slip of the foot. People also make bad decisions when they're tired or hungry, so it's easy to do something rash that you wouldn't normally consider.
Both rushing the job and working too late can also lead to carelessness when setting up and moving a ladder, so be aware that you need to take your time to check the safety catches and stability of the ladder each time you move it – and you should move it rather than try to over-reach and risk toppling off.
Take your time with DIY projects. Not only will this ensure that you are as alert, and therefore as safe as you can be, but you'll also get a better finish to the task at hand when you are physically and mentally fit. It only takes a couple of seconds of distraction or carelessness to cause an accident that could, at best, land you in A&E, and at worst, leave your family grieving.