Many accidents happen when people get in a hurry to get something done. The most important safety guideline is to take your time to think through your task before you start and make sure you have what you need. The list below includes several general tips, but by no means covers all contingencies. Every job has its own considerations.

 

Suit up properly. Wear appropriate shoes, gloves, head coverings, safety glasses/goggles, ear protection, sunscreen and respirators. When working with machinery, take off jewelry and avoid wearing loose clothing or scarves.

Set up your work area in advance. Make sure you have adequate lighting and ventilation; eliminate distractions and tripping hazards wherever possible. Make sure ladders are in good repair and placed at a proper angle on a reliable surface. Look around your general work area carefully, eliminating problems such as wasp nests, hanging branches and protruding nails ahead of time. Take children and pets into account.

Inspect and maintain your tools. Use them according to instructions and intended purpose. Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges, and unplug tools between uses. Don’t use bent or chipped blades, keep blade guards in place and prevent kickback. Take the time to set up clamps if necessary.

Guard against fire and chemical hazards. Store chemicals properly in dry, cool areas away from pets and children. Take special care when working with flammable substances. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, ensure good airflow and follow all instructions.

Team up. Being willing to ask for help when you need it is a huge safety measure many people neglect. In addition to potentially saving your back, it can save huge amounts of time and frustration, with the possible added benefit of making the project more fun. 

Pay attention to your body. Eat and drink adequately while you’re working, taking occasional rest breaks to walk around and regroup. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re not too tired to be working. Don’t take on a project when you’re fatigued, sick or incapacitated.

Have a first aid kit handy. Even with careful preparation, accidents can happen. Make sure you have what you need close by.

Clean up. After the work is done, be sure to clear all debris, clean tools and work areas, store tools and chemicals properly, and generally re-secure the area as necessary. 

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