Being a DIYer isn't especially dangerous, but there are
risks when you're using tools and ladders. Every year, emergency rooms report hundreds
of thousands of visits for injuries caused by power tools, ladders and hand
tools. To ensure you're not one of these statistics, here are six reminders
about how to prevent common injuries when you're working on summer projects.
1. Don't use a table
saw fence for crosscuts
One of the most dangerous table saw practices is cutting a
board to length using the fence as a guide. There's a good chance the board
will get pinched between the blade and the fence and get thrown back into your
body with lots of force. This "kickback" causes injuries like broken thumbs,
cracked ribs, ruptured spleens and punctured eyes.
be a dummy: Don't use the fence as a guide for crosscutting. Instead,
use the miter gauge or build a crosscutting sled.
2. Don't put your
hand directly behind a circular saw
If your circular saw blade binds, the saw can shoot backward
a lot faster than you can move your hand out of the way. Anything in the
blade's path, including fingers, hands, legs and feet, is in danger of getting
cut. Always clamp your work and keep both hands on the saw whenever possible.
Also, keep your body to the side of the saw rather than directly behind it.
be a dummy: Don't hold a board like this. Use a temporary nail or
3. Keep your hands clear
of your nail gun
Nails don't always go straight. Wood grain or knots can
deflect the nail and cause it to shoot out the side of the board. If you're
driving the nail at an angle to toenail a board, there's a good chance the nail
can glance off and go shooting into space. If you must hold a board with your
free hand, keep it well away from the nail gun muzzle. Also avoid shooting into
large knots that can deflect the nail. And, of course, always wear eye
protection when you're using a nail gun.
Don't be a dummy: Don't hold a board close to the nail gun tip. Move your hand as far back as
possible to avoid getting a nail through your finger.
4. Take utility
They may seem tame, but utility knives account for
a whopping 60,000 estimated emergency room visits a year. One slip is all it
takes to put a deep cut in any body part that's in the way. To avoid injury,
clamp materials instead of holding them by hand. If you do have to hold
something while you're cutting, imagine a line at right angles to the cutting
line and keep your hand behind it (on the dull side of the blade).
be a dummy: If the knife slips, this dummy will end up with a nasty
cut or worse. Keep your hands out of the blade's path.
5. Wear eye
Wood chips, metal shards, bits of tile, household chemicals,
paint, solvents and sticks are some of the things that injure eyes. Use the
right eye protection for the task at hand. For general work around the house,
wear ANSI-approved safety glasses or goggles. Look on the frame for the "Z87+"
marking, which indicates that the glasses are rated for high impact. Wear a
face shield for grinding operations. Buy several pairs of safety glasses so
they're always nearby. And wear them!
be a dummy! This dummy has eye protection and isn't using it. The
smart guy not only has eye protection on hand—he wears it!
6. Don't leave tools
on top of a ladder
Be honest: Have you left stuff on top of ladders or framing?
One of our Field Editors told us how his brother had rested a framing nail gun
on the top plate of a wall they were building, and while he was working below,
the vibrations from his pounding knocked it off onto his head. Tools left on
top of ladders, set precariously on framing or left on a roof are accidents waiting
leave anything on ladders. It'll come back to bonk you!