With consecutive long weekends looming, the media is full of advertisements for building materials and encouragement for a bit of do-it-yourself home improvement action.

We’re all for people tackling projects around the house. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty apparently!

According to the Monash Injury Research Institute, 15 Victorians are killed and at least 2,000 are seriously injured every year carrying out DIY work in Victoria alone. The home, yard and garden are where it happens – 30 of all emergency department cases of injury to Victorian adults – with evidence suggesting that home injuries result in more lost days from work than workplace injuries.*

Injuries to eyes, hands and fingers are common with falls and power tools primarily to blame. It’s critically important to exercise caution, to wear personal protective equipment and to be mindful of the many hazards associated with even the simplest of DIY tasks.

Keep these things in mind especially:

Plumbing and electrical work must only be done by a licensed plumber or  electrician.

This is not work that should be undertaken by a home-owner.

Safety is critical. Barriers should be erected around excavations; ladders should be secured and personal protective equipment (e.g. face mask, gloves etc) should be worn when sawing, sanding or painting, just to name just a few basic ‘risk reduction measures’.

Children, pets and building sites don’t mix. A family home can become a building site in a matter of only hours, so make sure you’ve isolated the job from inquisitive kids or dogs.

Cement sheet products manufactured before 1983-86 are likely to contain asbestos. Don’t cut, drill, sand or break up any material that might contain asbestos fibres … leave it to the licensed contractors!

Paint in older homes will often contain lead. Don’t sand and then inhale the dust.

Before you jump in and consider yourself a “you beaut” DIY expert, it is wise to seek professional advice from an Archicentre Australia architect – even if its simply to set an informed path towards proposed works.