Safety at work: Using toots and materials correctly is vital not just to producing good results, but to your own safety. As well as taking commonsense precautions when doing electrical and plumbing jobs, always follow manufacturers instructions when using power tools, or applying hazardous substances and wear the recommended protective clothing. When using chemical products indoors, make sure that the room in which you are working is well ventilated. Once your work is finished, leave the windows open for a few hours to allow all the fumes to escape.
Wear heavy duty gloves to protect against cuts when using dangerous tools and materials such as glass. Vinyl gloves give protection against chemicals and grease.
Ear protectors make noisy tools more comfortable to use, and protect against insidious damage to your hearing.
The dangers may not always be as obvious as you might think. A spinning circular saw, a blowlamp, or a high ladder are self-evident hazards, but the effect of a dropped club hammer, or the fumes from a can of adhesive, or the fine dust thrown up when sanding paintwork may seem risks hardly worth considering. But the danger from these items can be very real. A heavy hammer falling just a few feet can break bones in a foot that is in-, adequately protected. A flying particle of rust or paint is like a shard of glass and can damage your eyes. Inhaling fumes from some adhesives and corrosive liquids can have serious health effects.
Clothing Wearing appropriate clothes and, when necessary, safety clothes is essential. Loose clothing, scarves, necklaces, and ties are all potential hazards since they can become tangled in moving parts of machinery. If you have long hair, tie it back.
Footwear Wear safety boots with reinforced toe-caps when working with heavy building blocks or bricks or hammers. Wear strong shoes when working from a ladder.
Gloves Wear heavy duty industrial gloves in leather when working with dangerous tools or materials. Lighter vinyl gloves protect against oils, greases, and most chemicals, while natural rubber gloves stronger than most kitchen gloves withstand chemicals and resist tears and abrasions. Knitted gloves with latex-reinforced palm and back are good for carrying glass and metal.
Face masks To avoid inhaling airborne particles and fumes, a dust mask or respirator is vital. The simplest mask consists of a filter holder that molds to the shape of your face and takes a replaceable cotton gauze pad to cover the nose and mouth. Respirators are robust, being made from molded rubber or plastic. They have an exhalation valve and a replaceable cartridge filter that racists organic vapor and paint spraying. You have to insert the appropriate filter for the substance being used
Safety glasses Typical jobs requiring eye protection are sanding, painting a ceiling with a textured compound, spraying paint, and most metalwork tasks. Whenever you are using chemicals, make eye protection a priority. In their simplest form, safety glasses are like standard ones, but with impact-resistant lenses. More sophisticated versions have ventilated side protection and non-fogging lenses. Safety goggles are the most robust, with safety lenses housed in a flexible plastic frame. Gas welding goggles have a shaded lens.
Ear protectors Foam earplugs with a connecting cord for easy removal are relatively cheap and give protection against noise levels above 80 decibels. More expensive – and more effective – are ear capsules or muffs, usually mounted on an adjustable headband, with interchangeable ear pads.
Safety helmets A safety helmet is generally needed only for a sizeable demolition or building project. You might prefer to rent a “hard hat” rather than buying one.
Overalls If you don’t have old clothes to wear for painting and other work, a polypropylene suit is ideal. It protects your clothes, doesn’t weigh you down, and is rip resistant. Some styles have elasticated sleeve-cuffs and deep pockets for tools and materials.
Chemical products Adhesives, corrosives, and other chemical products used in maintenance work include many substances both harmful to the touch and capable of giving off fumes and causing dizziness and injury if inhaled. Most important of all, keep children away from‘these materials which often come in bright and appealing containers and can all too easily be mistaken by a young child for something containing candy. Always read the warnings, which, by law, appear on the packaging. Do this before you open the container, Let alone start using it. Fumes arise immediately certain chemicals are exposed to the air and if you are in a poorly ventilated space and have a particular sensitivity to any of the compounds involved, you could be putting yourself at risk.
When ventilation is recommended, open wide all the windows in the room. It is probably best to close internal doors to prevent fumes carrying to other parts of the house. Leave windows open for a couple of hours after the work is complete to make sure fumes have dissipated. Volatile fumes may ignite if expose to a naked flame, so follow instructions to extinguish any pilot lights in boilers or stoves and, of course, don’t smoke. Fumes permeate clothes so, when you have finished for the day, change into something clean and hang your working clothes out in the open for a couple of hours before washing them.
Cyanoacrylates, or superglue are extremely powerful. A container can burst and squirt liquid into your face, so wear a mask and safety glasses. Familiarize yourself with the first-aid advice printed on the container in advance. Any substance that gets on to your skin adhesive, preservative, or paint-stripper must be washed off immediately. Hold the affected part under running water. If the irritation or pain continues later, seek medical help.
If swallowed, some liquids can cause severe sickness, permanent disablement, or even death. Store all chemicals in their original containers under lock and key and out of children’s reach. Never mix different household cleaners a chemical reaction can result and cause poisonous fumes to be given off.
- Keep household and garden chemicals securely locked away.
- Store liquids below solids so that if a bottle leaks the liquid cannot flow onto the packs of solids.
- Check “best before” or expiry dates of materials you are using, and before throwing old ones away.
- Dispose of old materials through the appropriate local services.
- Do not throw old paint, chemicals, or noxious substances into household refuse, which may be returned to land-fills in the earth. These substances can contribute to contamination of land, ground water, rivers, and the sea through leakage or breakage. Contact your local government for advice.