No don’t laugh it’s true! Around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004. Some 87,000 people were actually injured while gardening. What is the most common accident?? No it’s not the classic Laurel and Hardy gag of stepping on a rake and getting a faceful of handle. - www.bbc.co.uk
The lawnmower tops the list of the most dangerous pieces of equipment, with 6,500 lawnmower related accidents reported each year. Suprisingly the innocuous flowerpot is the second most dangerous tool, causing 5,300 accidents, with falls, cuts and lifting injuries some of the most common types of accident recorded.
Even the Lawn mower is an obvious source of pain it isn’t just lawn mowers and power tools that need to be operated with care. Every garden tool will almost certainly be sharp in some way or another.
Many gardening injuries involve hands and fingers. You should wear a sturdy pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands against cuts, insect bites, soil and skin irritants. Gloves will also protect you from injuries from thorns. You should choose hand tools that suit you. Where possible, get a feel of the tools before you buy because handle size, weight and length are all crucial when it comes to using a tool safely. Blisters and muscle pain can result if the finger grips on the handle are too small or too large for your hand. Don’t use tools that are in bad condition. It’s better to buy a brand new tool than to risk unnecessary injury.
Don’t use your bare hand for things like shovelling as the soil can contain buried objects like broken glass and tree roots which can injure you. If the tool is adjustable, make sure that the any adjustment is firmly secured before using it again.
Safety – Tool Maintenance and Good Practice
Keeping your tools well-maintained makes them last longer and makes them safer to use. For example, close the blades on secateurs shut with the safety catch when the job’s done and keep the blades of your shears and sharp by using a sharpening stone. You can also take them to a garden centre for sharpening if you prefer. Working with blunt tools takes up more time and energy and can put unnecessary pressure on joints and muscles as well as being dangerous.
You should store all your tools in a safe, locked shed. Ideally you should hang up spades, forks, hoes and rakes in the shed after use. This stops you or anyone else from tripping over them and keeps them out of younger children’s reach. In fact, children should be taught not go into the garden shed unless they have your permission and you should never leave them in there unattended. ALWAYS put your tools away after use. Keep smaller hand tools such as trowels, secateurs etc. in dry storage bags to prevent them from getting damp and rusty.
Never carry sharp tools in your pocket. You might forget they’re there and you could do serious injury to yourself. A multi-tool belt can be very useful for carrying several tools safely. Know what each tool is used for and only use the appropriate tool for the job and keep a first aid box handy, just in case.
By taking safety precautions and working tidily, i.e. keeping tools in a secure toolbox and maintaining them regularly, you will reduce the risk of injury. However, as an extra precaution, you should always keep a first aid box handy and ensure that you’re up to date with your tetanus vaccination.
You can help to avoid accidents by following some simple guidelines:
Design a garden so that it reduces the need for high maintenance and lifting.
Avoid trip hazards such as loose paving slabs, hosepipes left unravelled or uneven surfaces.
Use surfaces that provide a good grip underfoot.
Avoid the garden if possible when conditions are icy and slippery.
Do not leave sharp tools lying around. Lock them away from children in a secure shed.
Empty paddling pools after children have finished playing in them.
Learn which plants are poisonous and ensure children and pets stay away from them.
Electrical equipment should never be used in wet weather.
Use an RCD (residual current device) to prevent electric shocks. It cuts out the flow of electricity when a cable or flex is cut through.
Lock away chemicals such as weedkillers and insecticides in a secure shed. Just because they have the words ‘organic’ or ‘bio’ on them, does not make them safe for children to touch.
Wear safety equipment – such as goggles, hard hats, gloves and steel toecapped boots – when using machinery. Tuck in loose items of clothing.
Never leave a barbecue unattended and make sure the flames are extinguished before going to bed.
If you are in the least bit unsure about the safety of tackling a job, call in professionals.
Plan work ahead and take your time – tiredness can make you careless.
Use safety equipment designed for the job. Protect your sight with safety glasses or a visor when using hedgetrimmers, stone cutters and strimmers. Wear ear plugs or defenders when using noisy machinery like chainsaws or compost shredders.
Stout gloves and shoes can prevent injury when using sharp tools or removing blades, thorns or protruding nails.
Use the right ladder for the job, and with care.
Further information about garden safety can be found on the bbc gardeners world website; www.bbc.co.uk/gardening
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