Safety comes first dur­ing DIY projects

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood Gwyn­neth Hay­wood is the se­nior re­gional of­fi­cer of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

As the warmer months approach, many of us have a list of home-main­te­nance tasks to tick off and that might in­clude spruc­ing up hard-to-reach places dur­ing a “spring-clean”, emp­ty­ing gut­ters or prun­ing trees in the gar­den.

It’s timely to talk about a grow­ing and trou­bling prod­uct­safety is­sue re­lat­ing to the way lad­ders are used, par­tic­u­larly by older men.

The “do-it-your­self” approach is in­grained in Aus­tralian cul­ture and the pride we feel from a job well done is hard to beat.

Of­ten DIY will in­volve the use of a lad­der and we also need to get that job right.

While the peak age for gen­eral DIY in­juries is 30-34 years old, when it comes to lad­der-re­lated ac­ci­dents it’s usu­ally men aged 65 and above who are hurt or killed.

Now for the sober­ing of­fi­cial statis­tics that show why we need to take lad­der safety se­ri­ously.

The num­ber of lad­der-re­lated hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions for peo­ple aged 65 and over is about 1600 a year.

One third need in­ten­sive care and, shock­ingly, a quar­ter of these in­ten­sive-care pa­tients die.

Of those who do sur­vive, more than half are not well enough to live at home af­ter 12 months.

How­ever, on a pos­i­tive note, al­most ev­ery in­jury or death was pre­ventable and mostly the ac­ci­dents were down to risky, un­nec­es­sary short­cuts.

That’s why a new na­tional ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign is un­der way to help re­duce lad­der-re­lated in­juries, par­tic­u­larly in se­nior men work­ing in and around the home. Tips: Pur­chase a lad­der that is the right height for the jobs you’re likely to use it for.

Check the weight ca­pac­ity be­cause you mustn’t ex­ceed it.

Read the safety warn­ings and man­u­fac­turer’s ad­vice/ in­struc­tions.

Most men know how to use a lad­der safely: the cam­paign is about en­cour­ag­ing us to con­sider the con­se­quences be­fore dan­ger­ous lad­der use.

Aussie blokes whose lives were turned up­side down are shar­ing their sto­ries at www.prod­uct­safety.gov.au/ lad­der safety mat­ters, so we can learn from them.

Choose the right lad­der for jobs around the house and make sure it’s in good con­di­tion with­out warp­ing.

Set it up prop­erly (en­gage all locks and braces and se­cure it at the top) and put it on dry, firm and level ground.

When climb­ing, stay in the cen­tre, go no higher than the sec­ond rung from the top of a step lad­der and third rung from the top of an ex­ten­sion lad­der and only stretch within arm’s reach to keep your balance. When us­ing a lad­der, make safety mat­ter.

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