Us Kiwis love our DIY – the ability to do-it-yourself is so revered that fixing something with “number 8 wire” has become a part of our culture. With the popularity of reality TV fix-it shows, more and more New Zealanders are deciding to give DIY a go. Consumer spending on hardware, building and garden supplies in the first three months of 2013 was $1.35 billion, up from $1.18 billion in the same period the year before. That is a lot of DIY!

It probably won’t come as a surprise that with more people doing-it-themselves, injuries are on the rise too. Home maintenance injuries cost $59 million in ACC payments in 2012, compared to $27 million the year before. In fact, 77,451 Kiwis were paid out for DIY-related injuries.

So, what’s the most dangerous DIY tool?

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most dangerous, as evidenced by the DIY tool that is causing us the most harm. While power tools are definitely doing some gruesome injuries, it is the humble ladder that’s causing the most accidents. And by quite a large margin! The age group most affected is the elderly, so make sure you pop round to gran’s to help her change the lightbulbs and clear out the guttering.

Tips for staying safe during your DIY project

  • Never underestimate ladders: They’re causing the most injuries, so take extra care when using a ladder – starting with choosing the right one for the job. Set it on a flat surface, and never ever overextend your reach even if that means the pain of having to repeatedly climb down and move the ladder along to reach the next spot you’re painting. A good rule to follow: one step at a time, two hands at a time
  • Slow down: Related to the point above, we just like to rush through things don’t we? There is always something important we could be spending our time on, but it’s when we rush that injuries happen. Get prepared with all the right tools, read any instructions, and give yourself time to do the job properly. There’s nothing so rewarding as coming to the end of a job well done
  • Get your safety gear on: Safety glasses are a must for any DIY jobs where bits of material can fly up, such as drilling, sawing or hammering. Don’t forget ear protection, closed toe shoes, gloves, tie your hair back and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewellery that could get caught
  • Using power tools properly: Thanks to ergonomic design, power tools like saws or hedge trimmers have places for both your hands – places where the tool is the most balanced and you’ll have the most control. Use them! Don’t try to hold the tool with one hand. If you don’t have the correct tool for the job, they’re pretty cheap to hire so there are no excuses. Trimming a tree with a circular saw might look funny on YouTube, but boy, is it a stupid idea
  • Have a first aid kit handy: It’s super easy to bang a thumb or catch your hand on a sharp edge – and that’s just the minor injuries. Keep a first aid kit nearby, stocked with all the things you could need
  • Know your limits: This is an important one. If you can hear a little voice in your head saying, “Hmm, perhaps I should call in a professional”, do it. If you’re not comfortable with a tool or process, swallow your pride and just stop
  • Know the rules: There is only a small amount of electrical work DIYers can undertake. Check out the consumer build website to see what you can do – and only attempt if you’re confident!

You should notify your insurance company of any structural alterations or repairs, to ensure insurance cover is in place if you undertake this sort of DIY work.

A DIY accident can not only injure, but also add additional cost – you might have to hire someone to fix the mishap while you’re recovering, or damage could cause more serious harm to your house long term. If in doubt, hire a professional.

That’s all from us, but if you’d like more DIY safety tips check out ACC’s article here.

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