Carpentry, like any other physical role, carries the real risk of accidents and injuries occurring. Most expert tradesmen learn to prevent accidents through experience and guidance from their peers or mentors. In fact, it’s doubtful that you’ll acquire a manual describing all of the hazards carpenters experience on the job unless you learned the craft in a formal school setting.
This article highlights the four common health and safety issues carpenters may encounter while on the job. We also provide advice on how to avoid them and reduce workplace accidents.
Although electrical wiring is not part of the job definition, a carpenter’s responsibilities can occasionally overlap with those of an electrician. Carpenters must have a rudimentary understanding of household and commercial electrical systems at the very least. You should be able to recognise live wires, find the mains, and turn off the electricity in a single area or the entire property. Even if you are aware of these dangers and take precautions to avoid electrocution, accidents can still occur.
Work Safe Australia recommends that you take the following steps to prevent electrocution on the job:
- Every project you work on should be checked for electrical dangers.
- When working with high-powered hand tools or high-voltage electrical cables, put on protective gear such as gloves and a balaclava.
- Test and maintain your electrical equipment on a regular basis.
- Examine your power tools for worn-out cables, faulty plugs, and other potential electrical hazards.
- Check your power tools as well to see if there’s any hidden electrical damage.
- Examine the efficiency of your current control methods and make any necessary adjustments if you believe they aren’t working as well as they should.
- Consider employing battery-powered or rechargeable tools instead of those that must be hooked into the main power source if your resources allow.
You’re most likely up on the roof fixing warped tiles or installing sheathing and gutters when you’re not erecting fixed cabinets, laying flooring or tiles, fitting exterior and wall cladding.
Falls that result in death are always a concern for carpenters. Falling from a height is a danger that comes with the territory. However, whether you’re working alone, with colleagues, or overseeing a team of carpenters, you have the potential to avoid it by properly following safety requirements.
A Model Code of Practice carpenter guide for controlling workplace fall hazards has been produced by Safe Work Australia. The following are some suggestions that you can use in your day-to-day work:
- Reduce the amount of time you spend on roofs by putting together what you can on the ground rather than waiting until you’re up there to put things together.
- If you’ll be operating at heights for a few days, install gangways on structural frames.
- Plan your work so that you don’t have to alternate between putting up and taking down ladders and suspended gangways.
- Cover any surrounding holes, shafts, service pits, or gaps without safety guardrails that you might fall down.
- Make sure your portable ladder is in good working order on a regular basis. Maintain it by keeping it clean, rust-free, and in good working order.
- Instead of climbing up and performing repairs at a height, drop a detachable fixture affixed to the ceiling, such as a chandelier, to the ground.
- Workplace risks, such as deep pits and electrical panels, should be marked with signage. When you become preoccupied and neglect to pay attention, these indications will remind you of their presence.
3. Lacerations and Cuts
You use power tools and electrical equipment to cut through wood, steel, and other tough materials. As a result, every time you use them, you risk cuts and lacerations. When you’re new to using a tool, the risk is greatest. When you’re more familiar with and competent at using it the risk significantly falls.
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are when it comes to using tools accidents can happen. When operating a circular saw, for example, you put on a pair of gloves to protect your skin. However, a splinter can hook the fibre of your gloves as you guide the plywood onto the table saw, preventing you from withdrawing your hand out of the way of the saw.
There are more effective ways to avoid cuts and wounds on the job. We have listed just some of them for this carpenter guide below:
- Maintain the sharpness of your blades and cutting instruments. Without any effort on your part, the tools should cut through wood or whatever substance you’re working with. You risk not only cuts but also injuries to your hand if you have to place your weight on a hand saw, for example.
- Always double-check that your non-cutting hand is out of the way of the blade when cutting materials.
- Wear safety equipment such as gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.
- When your blades aren’t in use, maintain the protective coverings on them. Blades and cutting tools should never be stored in a toolbox without their protective sleeves or coverings.
4. Back Injuries
Carpenters are prone to a variety of back and muscle ailments. Individuals who use a lot of tools and equipment in their jobs may develop chronic pain over time. Carpentry is physically demanding work, especially when you’re working alone and performing all of the heavy lifting. Back strains affect the majority of carpenters, which is unsurprising.
If you can’t avoid back muscle soreness, you must take steps to avoid significant injury, which begins with practising proper lifting techniques:
- When lifting anything heavy, bend your knees and activate your leg muscles.
- To support the weight, don’t bend over at the waist and then backwards, as this will overwork your lower back and forearms.
Regardless of what actions you take to maximise your safety as a carpenter, don’t forget to thoroughly research your carpenter business insurance* requirements and needs. Having insurance in place can give you peace of mind that you are protected if things don’t quite go according to plan.
BizCover offer a range of business insurance products to help safeguard your carpentry business when you need it most with coverage for things like Public Liability, Personal Accident and Illness and Tool insurance available. Get in touch for a quote today.
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