If you get a job in construction these days, most companies are going to require you to wear a hardhat, eye protection, gloves, steel-toed shoes, and utilize fall protection for working areas above 6-foot in height. Furthermore, you will be trained on the safety and emergency procedures as well as how to properly use all tools and equipment on the jobsite. Most jobsites will not allow anyone to operate or use any equipment in which the person has not been qualified and trained to use. Companies have figured out that safe workplaces save money, but most importantly, save their workers from injuries and possibly death.
With that all said, one of the least safe places to work seems to be at home during a weekend DIY project. Emergency rooms and urgent care facilities are barraged on Saturdays and Sundays by homeowners who attempt home construction projects without making safety a priority. The safety protocols from workplace construction sites also apply to your home no matter who is doing the work.
The number one accident on construction jobsites are falls and that is despite the use of proper fall-arrest equipment and safety training. Yet, every weekend there are homeowners who will lean a ladder on an unsecure wall with no regard for safety. For some homeowners undertaking a DIY project, a chair set on top of a few buckets becomes a makeshift ladder, or a small ladder placed on a concocted table to reach a higher area is also an unsafe practice that takes place.
A 4-foot fall can be deadly for a young, healthy person, not to mention a senior citizen. Plus, walking on a roof without fall arrest equipment could be deadly, and still, this weekend there will be homeowners on their slippery roof with no safety gear, using a pressure washer and soap to clean off mildew. When working on a ladder or a roof, please use proper equipment and follow all safety guidelines. The best rule to follow is if you don’t feel comfortable or have the mobility to climb a ladder- don’t get on one.
Full disclosure - I hate flip-flops. I don’t wear them because flip-flops do not protect your toes from breaks or injuries, and these shoes can easily facilitate broken ankles as well. It’s amusing to me that every weekend homeowners will work on their house or yard wearing flip flops. A tool or piece of equipment that drops on your exposed foot, will break toes and feet whether you are at a jobsite or at your own home. If you are working with power equipment or heavy items, you should wear proper shoes, and yes, wearing steel-toed shoes for such projects around the house is a good idea. A lot of limps begin due to weekend home project accidents.
Next on the list of unsafe practices which take place during weekend projects is the use of power equipment without proper eye protection. Every weekend there are homeowners being rushed to the emergency eye-doctor due to debris getting into the eyes, as well as serious eye lacerations. A simple $4 pair of safety glasses could prevent thousands of dollars in medical bills, and more importantly, these cheap glasses could save your eyesight. Please, don’t cut, drill, or fire up any lawn equipment without proper eye wear. In the world of construction safety, knowingly failing to wear eye protection can result in a huge fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The other simple safety tip that many Do-It-Yourselfers fail to follow before starting any project, is to know what you are doing. Don’t dive into something without reading the instructions and investigating all the requirements of the job. Failure to cut off a breaker or look for a hazard could lead to instant injury or death. Before doing any project, know your project, check out your surroundings, and be sure you have the right equipment to get it done.
Following proper safety procedures is imperative at home, it is not just for the jobsite. If you don’t have the right attitude towards safety, tools, and attire to start a project, there is a good chance you could find your way to the emergency room.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.