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.

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