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posted: 3/22/2014 6:00 AM

Practice garage and workshop smarts

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  • A neat workshop is a safer workshop. Pay attention to where tools are kept and keep cords manageable.

    A neat workshop is a safer workshop. Pay attention to where tools are kept and keep cords manageable.

Metro Creative

Completing home improvement projects on your own can be both rewarding and financially responsible. A growing number of homeowners are dabbling in do-it-yourself projects, recognizing both the personal and financial rewards of such undertakings.

As more and more homeowners perform their own renovations and other improvement projects, many are outfitting their homes with basement workshops or transforming garages into a do-it-yourselfer's paradise.

Safety is vital in any workshop. During a typical home renovation, homeowners will use all sorts of dangerous tools and chemicals, and even the simplest mishap can result in a serious injury. Following safety rules can reduce the risk of injury.

Know your tools

Before novice do-it-yourselfers begin working with power tools, they should familiarize themselves with their owners' manuals and the operating instructions. Some home-improvement retailers offer classes in various home renovation projects and may be able to teach tool usage. Do-it-yourselfers should consult professionals with regard to proper tool use and safety. Do not use tools for purposes other than what the tool was intended to do. If machine guards are provided, they should be used and never removed.

Wear safety gear

Eye, ear and breathing protection are key in any workshop environment. Dust and chemical gases may be present when working with certain products, and debris can be kicked up and enter the eyes, causing irritation or even blindness. Loud power tools can damage sensitive ears, especially when used in a contained room. Always wear goggles, sound-muffling earphones and dust masks when working.

Assess physical well-being

Do-it-yourselfers should never work with machinery if they are feeling sick or fatigued or while taking medication that can affect concentration or alertness. All it takes is a moment of distraction to cause an injury.

Never surprise anyone who is working with power tools and keep unnecessary people out of the workshop, where they might chat and distract others from the tasks at hand.

Factor in ergonomics

Failure to work in comfortable conditions can result in repetition injuries or muscle strain. Make the workshop as comfortable as possible. Ensure the work table is at the right height. Use a rubber mat on the floor to reduce standing fatigue. Have a stool or chair available for taking breaks.

Keep a clean shop

Power cords strewed around the workshop present a tripping hazard. They also make it possible to drag sharp or heavy tools off tables and workbenches if the cords are pulled or tripped over. A neat workshop is a safer workshop. Pay attention to where tools are kept and keep cords manageable.

Dress appropriately

Loose clothing and hair can become tangled or lodged in equipment. Do not wear jewelry. Dress comfortably but appropriately for the workshop, being sure to wear sturdy shoes.

Lock it up

Children and pets are curious and may wander into a workshop to explore. They can become seriously ill or injured by the bevy of chemicals and tools used for common projects. Some items are flammable and sharp and should always be out of reach. Locking cabinets and drawers can keep tools inaccessible. Also warn youngsters against entering the workshop unattended.

As more people engage in do-it-yourself projects, homeowners should reacquaint themselves with safety procedures.

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