Be wary while working in the garden
Agarden is somewhere to go for wellbeing but it is important to be aware of safety, because of the potential hazards.
In New Zealand, about 86 people are injured each week from using their lawnmower and of these, about six end up in hospital.
The Accident Compensation Corporation recommends people wear sturdy, closed-in shoes while mowing; safety goggles – even a small piece of grass can cause a problem; and ear muffs to protect hearing.
Never put your hands anywhere near the blades of a mower that’s going.
Wear long pants and long sleeved shirt, a hat and sunblock.
Ride-on mowers also need attention to safety, particularly if the lawn has sloping contours which could cause it to tip.
Like all gardening, choose the coolest time to work in the sun and drink water frequently to avoid sun or heat stroke.
It’s easy to get carried away weeding, pruning or planting but it is time to quit when the sun gets high.
Heat exhaustion can happen in relatively short periods of time especially if a person is very young, old or on certain medications.
A hazard closer to the earth is in the earth itself – or most often, in potting mix or compost.
The bacteria, named Legionella longbeachae, occurs naturally and can be found in potting mix, compost and soil.
If dust from these is inhaled, the bacteria could enter the body and cause illness. In 2011, 81 people in New Zealand were reported as having contracted this disease from potting mix, compost or soil, so it’s important to have plenty of fresh air about.
Having hands in the soil can expose people to another nasty infection – tetanus – so check vaccinations are up to date.
Pricks and scrapes are common while dealing with plants and shrubs, and the tetanus bacteria enters the body through a break in the skin. A prick from a rose can cause misery of another kind – sporotrichosis, caused by a fungus – so wear long thick gloves when handling this plant.
It’s also important to familiarise yourself and children with which plants are poisonous.
ACC reminds people to make their sheds safe too. Keeping the floor clear of clutter to avoid tripping over things, such as electrical cords, can prevent the all- toocommon fall.
Good lighting is a safety factor, as is keeping hazardous substances like garden sprays locked away.
Check power tools and hand tools are in good condition and have their own storage space.
Take note of information supplied with chemicals about their storage around other chemicals.
When using sprays, wear gloves, mask and overalls that can be washed separately.
One of the most common accidents is a fall from a ladder and it doesn’t need to be from much of a height to cause injury.
It is recommended you have someone hold the ladder at its base to ensure your safety and take care when leaning over the top of the ladder while holding a heavy tool, especially if you are older – your back may suffer for it.
Rakes left lying on the ground are a classic garden accident waiting to happen, so employ that wise old maxim: don’t put it down, put it away. Many a bruised forehead has happened after someone stood on the upturned points of a rake. Pots and hoses should also be kept tidy so gardening is more of a pleasure than a pain.
For further information, there are many websites with good garden safety tips.
Safety first: Check your ladder is safe before climbing up.