Although DIY projects can help you save money and can be fun, they can also come with risks for the layperson who doesn’t take steps to protect themselves. Many common DIY projects are homemade versions of something an expert with years of training and education would usually handle, which means it’s not unusual to be working with dangerous power tools that can cause serious injury.
Don’t let yourself be caught off guard by a power tool in a home improvement project. Take all necessary precautions and arm yourself with information and safety tips before attempting any DIY project. Here are some common injuries that can occur in a DIY project and how you can prevent them in the first place.
Avoid kickback on a table saw
Table saw injuries account for approximately 35,000 hospital visits annually, making this a dangerous power tool to use. Be careful with these saws, and follow the instructions to use them safely. The most likely table saw injury to hospitalize someone is kickback, which is when a piece of wood being cut by a table saw is suddenly propelled aggressively back to the user. That can happen when wood is caught by the backend of the saw, such as when you use the fence as a cutting guide, and the wood is sent jerking back toward you.
You can avoid this injury by always using an appropriate guide, not the fence, to cut wood, and by using a riving knife on your table saw to prevent kickback in the first place. In addition, you can also use a push stick to move wood through a table saw, keeping your hands and body away from the wood entirely.
In addition to avoiding kickback, be sure to take seriously the threat of a blade injury, as 83 percent of DIY hospitalizations come from the blade. Don’t remove the blade guard, no matter how inconvenient it is, as it has a critical role in protecting your hands from the sharp saw as you move the wood through.
Watch your hands with a nail gun
Nail guns are tricky, unpredictable tools. You can’t guarantee that a nail will come out straight, so you should always be sure that your hands are far away from the gun, even if you think it’s positioned somewhere the nail isn’t likely to come out of. Wood knots and other hidden abnormalities can affect how the nail slides in.
Some nail guns also have a “bump-trip” option to quickly plant as many nails as possible. Although it’s a time-saver, this feature can also be accidentally left on, causing you to kick the trigger while just walking with the nail gun, which can shoot a nail into your leg or foot. Make sure to practice trigger safety with your nail gun. Keep your fingers off the trigger until you want to use it, and be sure to never accidentally leave it in the bump-trip setting if you aren’t actively using it.
Don’t touch the blade of a circular saw
Circular saws are another dangerous and ubiquitous DIY tool you should watch out for. These tools cause an estimated 14,000 hospital visits annually, mostly because of the blade associated with the tool. As with the table saw, you should never remove the blade guard from a circular saw, and you should always position yourself to avoid any potential kickback. The circular saw blade can bind on the wood, shooting it back like a table saw does.
Keep both your hands on the machine at all times, rather than on the wood, and use a clamp to maneuver and manipulate wood. Don’t position your body directly behind the wood and saw; stand to the side to avoid any potential injuries from the wood being pushed back.
Remember to protect your eyes from flying debris
Eye protection is one of the most critical parts of working with power tools. Wood can chip, splinter and go flying; sparks can bounce in different directions; chemicals can cause painful burns. According to personal injury lawyers, Robinson & Henry, eye injuries are some of the most commonly reported injuries in premises liability cases, so you have to be extra careful, not only about yourself but about anyone else in the room while you work on a DIY project. The best way to protect yourself from these injuries is to also wear an eye shield, or goggles, when working on DIY projects. Keep several pairs of safety goggles around the house and in your tool shed so that you always have access to a pair for protection. Don’t get caught without safety goggles, and don’t underestimate the injuries that skipping goggles can put you at risk for.
DIY projects can be a fun and educational experience, but they’re also risky endeavors. Be sure to protect yourself, follow instructions carefully and defer to an expert when you need to.
Featured photo credit: vickysandoval22 via flickr.com