Ten rules for stay­ing safe in the gar­den

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter -

Prun­ing sea­son is upon us and gardeners ev­ery­where are tak­ing their se­ca­teurs to their fruit trees, roses and shrubs.

But an af­ter­noon’s prun­ing can be risky if you’re not care­ful. New Zealan­ders made 54,519 ACC claims worth over $36 mil­lion for gar­den­ing in­juries in 2015 so have a read of these ten ba­sic rules and make sure you don’t be­come an­other green­fin­gered statis­tic.

Use the right tools for the job, wear the right gear and keep tools sharp and well main­tained. Be re­al­is­tic about how ex­pe­ri­enced and fit you are. Call in the pro­fes­sion­als for tricky jobs es­pe­cially those us­ing a chain­saw above shoul­der height, up a lad­der or tree, or where ac­cess is dif­fi­cult.

Gloves give pro­tec­tion from scratches and pro­vide a bet­ter grip. They’ll re­duce blis­ter­ing, fin­ger­nail dam­age, sun­burn and pre­vent dirt or bac­te­ria in­fect­ing cuts in your skin. Choose the

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right sort for the job

Safety glasses or gog­gles will pro­tect you from branches snap­ping back in your face as well as fly­ing de­bris. Some screen out UV rays too. Add a face mask to avoid breath­ing in saw­dust and de­bris. Wear ear­muffs or plugs when work­ing with noisy power tools.

Wear good-fit­ting shoes or boots with non-slip soles ap­pro­pri­ate for the scale of the job. Avoid open-toed san­dals. Wear steel-capped work boots when us­ing power tools.

Don’t use a lad­der that is dam­aged or the wrong height. En­sure the base is se­cure, don’t over-reach or climb too high.

Keep small chil­dren and pets out of the way. Clear the ground around your feet or the base of a lad­der. Pile prun­ing de­bris away from where you’ll need to walk. Think about where branches or

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trees are go­ing to fall.

Be mind­ful of lo­cal fire reg­u­la­tions and sea­sonal fire bans be­fore light­ing up a bon­fire of pruned branches. You may need a per­mit. Be con­sid­er­ate of your neigh­bours too – don’t light up when the neigh­bour’s wash­ing is on the line. Keep the hose handy in case of sparks and don’t leave the fire unat­tended un­til it is com­pletely ex­tin­guished.


In­spect mains and bat­tery pow­ered mow­ers, trim­mers and shred­ders be­fore use. Check cords and safety guards for dam­age or signs of wear. Pre­vent shocks with a grounded, in­su­lated three­p­rong plug or a trans­former and only use out­door ex­ten­sion leads. Switch off tools be­fore con­nect­ing to the power sup­ply or chang­ing at­tach­ments. Plan your path or cut­ting di­rec­tion to avoid


chop­ping through the lead. Wear ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tive gear and read the man­ual.

Treat chain­saws with re­spect. Get proper in­struc­tion from an ex­pe­ri­enced user or take one of the cour­ses run by ed­u­ca­tion providers for land­scap­ers, life­style block own­ers, foresters and farm­ers.

Only pro­fes­sion­als should work around pow­er­lines. You may be li­able for any dam­age to the elec­tric­ity net­work or third par­ties if you un­der­take unau­tho­rised tree trim­ming. Check the pol­icy of your lo­cal lines com­pany, they may cover the costs of tree main­te­nance in some cases.

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Don’t fool your­self – some prun­ing jobs re­quire an ex­pert touch.

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