Practice safety with home improvement jobs

By Tyler J. Moffitt
The Safety Advocate

Home improvements are very popular in Canada and the United States, and always have been one of my hobbies.
In fact, when I do watch television, it’s usually a home improvement show. A lot of my reading involves home improvement books, magazines, as well as newspaper columns on the topic.
My first experience with home construction actually was helping my parents tear down a house in the 1970s so they could use the lumber to build a garage.
In the early 1980s, while in high school, I helped them build a house. In 1989, both my parents returned the favour when I built myself a garage in the country and a house the following year.
Looking back, I honestly can say there were times during the building process where I caught myself not wearing safety glasses when I should have, as well as other personal protective equipment.
My father, who was older and wiser, reminded me one time to put on my safety glasses before making a cut on a radial-arm saw. I’m fortunate that I did as a piece of wood ended up sticking across my safety glasses right in the line of fire of my eye!
Another time, I dropped some 2×4 building studs on my toes. While complaining, I made my way back to my vehicle to take off my running shoes and put on my safety boots.
Time has passed on and I traded country living to living in the town of Fort Frances. My home improvements to my current home in the last couple of years have been installing new doors and windows, drywalling and painting, landscaping, putting down inter-locking brick for a sidewalk, and building a shed.
There are many shows on television and books showing us all how to do home improvements, as well as build things. In fact, I’ve watched popular home improvement shows from Canada and the U.S.—and have observed some startling scenes.
There are still shows that have the participants using power tools, such as saws, without any eye protection. Remember, your vision is your window to the world and future.
Another show had the people demolishing a home quite wildly. Once again, a person was injured due to an unsafe act, as well as not wearing the required personal protective equipment.
Most recently, I watched a show where the designers piled firewood more than six feet high along a wall just outside the main entrance door of the house. Then they hung candles from the woodpile and lit them!
Please, don’t ever do anything of that nature. A candle is an open flame, which can start a furious fire within seconds.
Whatever home improvement you take on, remember to recognize that risk exists in every situation (it’s part of life). Realize that we all need to assess the degree of risk involved, as well as look at and choose behaviour to avoid or minimize potential injury.
Before commencing with any type of home improvement project, take the time to look first—understand the risks—and then make plans to manage them.
Wear the correct gear if you’re going to participate in any home improvement project for which protective equipment is available!
No home improvement project is so urgent that you can’t take the time to do it correctly, as well as safely.
We, as Canadians, need to take responsibility for our health and safety now, and take care of what we have!
Tyler J. Moffitt is a volunteer firefighter and emergency responder, as well as a continuous improvement advocate.

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