Whatever DIY project you undertake your personal safety and the safety of others should always be your main concerns.
- Always maintain a tidy work area. Tools and materials strewn across the ground can cause accidents.
- Many tools have sharp blades, so ensure you know how to use them safely.
- Always wear safety goggles when carrying out work that could cause flying debris.
- When using tools and materials unfamiliar to you, read the instructions carefully. If you are not sure of the correct method of operation or procedure to follow, consult the manufacturer or supplier – they will only be too glad to help.
- If working from a platform ensure it is erected properly on firm stable ground.
- Similarly, with ladders (see Ladder safety).
- Some materials used in DIY can give off harmful fumes. Read the label before proceeding, so that you know how to use the material safely and are aware of what action to take in the event of an accident. Follow the recommendations for working in a well-ventilated area and use a disposable respiratory mask if advised.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke when handling or mixing materials. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating.
- Do not dispose of unwanted chemicals or solvents down the drain.
- A toolbox can be dangerous if not kept tidy. A tidy toolbox makes it easier to find the tool you require quickly as well as reducing the risk of an accident. Tools with sharp blades such as saws and chisels should have guards fitted to the blades when not in use.
- Never use broken tools – replace them.
- When buying tools ensure they meet the British or European standard.
- Tools and materials should be safely stored out of the reach of children.
- Keep a basic first aid kit near at hand for the treatment of minor cuts and grazes etc.
- Before connecting new plumbing work the system should be flushed with water to remove any small pieces of debris from the pipe work or installation.
When carrying out work on electrical circuits or appliances extreme care must be taken. All electrical work must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations. This means all electrical work must conform to the requirements set out in the Wiring Regulations, which have been adopted as the British Standard (BS7671). (See Electrical Regulations).
- Before commencing even minor electrical repairs yourself, if possible, make sure there is somebody with you in the house in case of an emergency.
- Ensure any circuit you are working on is switched off at the consumer unit or fuse box. Double check with a circuit tester that no wires are still live.
- Replace a blown fuse immediately with a cartridge fuse or fuse wire of the appropriate rating. Other metallic objects must not be used to repair a fuse.
- Water and electricity do not mix.
Never work on electrical circuits in areas where the floors are wet or with wet hands.
Electrical appliances must never be taken into the bath or shower room.
Electrical appliances should never be used outside in wet conditions.
- If you need to work on an electrical appliance, unplug it from the socket first.
- Avoid overloading a circuit through using too many adaptors or plugging in too many appliances with a high wattage.
- When using an extension lead it should be fully uncoiled before the power is switched on.
- Power tools being used outside should be used with a residual current device (RCD)
- Plugs, sockets and electric flex should be regularly checked for wear and tear. On discovering a fault it should be rectified immediately.
- If carrying out a DIY project that involves puncturing the walls floors or ceilings with screws or nails, prior to starting use a cable detector to locate any electric cables.
- All electrical circuits and appliances should have an earth connection along with metal pipe work and other metal plumbing fittings. When the work has been completed check the earth connection has been made before switching the power back on.
- All electrical appliances should be checked at least once a year.
- Never attempt an electrical repair if you are unsure of how to proceed. Contact a professional electrician.
- It is illegal for anyone to carry out work involving the gas supply unless they are a qualified fitter. All qualified fitters should be Gas Safe registered.
- If you smell gas call Transco, the gas emergency service, immediately on 0800 111999.
Do not smoke or strike matches or ignite a cigarette lighter.
Don’t switch electrical appliances on or off.
Open all doors and windows.
Extinguish any naked flames.
Evacuate the building.
Turn off the gas supply at the meter.
- Gas boilers should be checked once a year by a GAS SAFE registered engineer.