Call the professionals for safety

by Andy Bryenton

Rural New Zealand is a place, which tends to favour the multi-skilled; after all, there’s so many things to do around the farm or even the rural home that it’s good to develop a wide range of abilities to fix, mend, renew and restore those things that fail due to wear and tear.

The big jobs sometimes require a professional approach, especially when it comes to those tasks that are a bit out of the ordinary.

It is doubly true for those that take place off the ground, such as repairing roofing and guttering or taking care of overgrown trees.

According to ACC statistics, the most dangerous thing in the tool shed is not a saw or hammer, but a ladder, with $17 million in injury claims a year recorded from ladder accidents.

That statistic goes up as the age of the ladder user goes up, too; a fact accident analysts put down to the can-do attitude of our older generation, who are used to tackling tasks themselves.

Relatively recent changes to the rules about working above a certain height have recognised the perils of falling and of poorly supported surfaces, leading to the requirement for professional tradespeople to erect scaffolding or use a secured harness in many aerial applications.

While prudent, this had also added to the time and cost of undertaking such projects, leading many people to try to go it alone. This time of year is especially busy when it comes to getting off the ground, with gutters to clean, roof leaks to repair and dead tree limbs to cut down before storms drop them. The overwhelming message from health care providers is to be careful, assess the situation, and in any doubt as to your equipment and abilities, call the professionals.

The reasoning is clear when a 2006 British study is taken into account. Of 200,000 cases of do-it-yourself injury (in one year, but not the larger population of Great Britain), more than half required time off work, and all, by definition, required a trip to the doctor.

Assuming that due to injury the job was not completed successfully, that’s 200,000 cases where the expense of time off, recuperation, treatment and medication far outstripped the cost of just picking up the phone and hiring someone who specialises for a living. This winter, take a long look at those risky, high-up and outdoor jobs, and question if it’s worth it.