Working in the Garden - Stay Safe

Working in the Garden - Stay Safe

16th April 2015

With the spring like weather we’ve been enjoying here in the UK recently many of us are turning our thoughts to our gardens.  Most of our gardens will be in dire need of an end of winter tidy up – some hard-core work to get our outdoor living spaces fit for the coming summer months.  There’s usually so much to do at this time of the year and starting now means that when the really hot weather comes you can sit back and enjoy yourself rather than getting caught up in a mad scramble to get the garden looking ship shape enough to relax in.  At this time of the year hospitals throughout the UK expect a wave of accidents victims, all of whom have been injured while attending to their gardens.  Whether it’s a fall from a ladder, a sprained ankle or a slice from a mishandled pair of shears, here’s how to stay safe while organising your garden ready for the summer.

One of the most common items used for access when gardening is a step ladder and it’s vital that you follow some key safety points when using a ladder outdoors.

  • Do a pre-use safety check on the ladder before using it to ensure that it’s still safe, that the rungs are structurally sound and haven’t become damaged, dented or rusted over the winter months.
  • Make sure that you place the ladder on solid, even ground and bear this in mind every time you need to move the ladder to a different place.
  • Make sure that the rungs are all clean and dry to prevent a slip hazard.
  • Never work sideways, always face the work you’re doing face on.
  • Avoid over-reaching – either to reach higher or to the side. If you need to reach higher, you really need a taller ladder for the job at hand and if you need to stretch sideways, you need to descend and move the ladder along.
  • Never leave tools on the platform at the top of the step Always keep one hand firmly on the ladder whilst working.

When working in the garden with sharp tools (such as shears, hedge trimmers and secateurs), make sure that your tools are in good working order. If you’re using power tools then it’s important that you make sure the cable is well out of harm’s way when cutting. Wearing the correct clothing and protective equipment is an essential part of staying safe in the garden. For larger jobs, steel toecap boots, a safety helmet, safety goggles and gloves will probably be necessary. For smaller jobs, make sure you wear comfortable boots or wellies that fit correctly. For those who carry out building and maintenance jobs in the garden, investing in a pair of steel toe cap wellies would be a great idea. A few pairs of gloves can be a great addition to your gardening toolkit – heavy duty gloves for the more stringent work (they’ll also protect you from thorns) and lighter weight gloves for weeding, potting, etc. You should really get into the habit of considering the risks involved with any job you intend to carry out in the garden – after all, gardening is only a pleasure when it’s not doing you harm.