It isn’t just electrical power tools and lawn mowers in the garden that need to be operated with care. Virtually every smaller garden tool will be sharp or pointed in some way and considerable care needs to be taken when operating these tools also.
Many gardening injuries involve hands and fingers. You should wear a sturdy pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands against cuts, insect bites, soil and skin irritants. Gloves will also protect you from injuries from thorns. You should choose hand tools that suit you. Where possible, get a feel of the tools before you buy because handle size, weight and length are all crucial when it comes to using a tool safely. Blisters and muscle pain can result if the finger grips on the handle are too small or too large for your hand. Don’t use tools that are in bad condition. It’s better to buy a brand new tool than to risk unnecessary injury.
Don’t use your bare hand for things like shovelling as the soil can contain buried objects like broken glass and tree roots which can injure you.
If the tool is adjustable, make sure that the any adjustment is firmly secured before using it again.
Safety – Tool Maintenance and Good Practice
Keeping your tools well-maintained makes them last longer and makes them safer to use. For example, close the blades on secateurs shut with the safety catch when the job’s done and keep the blades of your shears and sharp by using a sharpening stone. You can also take them to a garden centre for sharpening if you prefer. Working with blunt tools takes up more time and energy and can put unnecessary pressure on joints and muscles as well as being dangerous.
You should hang up spades, forks, hoes and rakes in the shed after use. This stops you or anyone else from tripping over them and keeps them out of younger children’s reach. In fact, children should be taught not go into the shed unless they have your permission and you should never leave them in there unattended. Keep smaller hand tools such as trowels, secateurs etc. in dry storage bags to prevent them from getting damp and rusty.
Never carry sharp tools in your pocket. You might forget they’re there and you could do serious injury to yourself. A multi-tool belt can be very useful for carrying several tools safely. Know what each tool is used for and only use the appropriate tool for the job and keep a first aid box handy, just in case.
By taking safety precautions and working tidily, i.e. keeping tools in a secure toolbox and maintaining them regularly, you will reduce the risk of injury. However, as an extra precaution, you should always keep a first aid box handy and ensure that you’re up to date with your tetanus vaccination.