How to avoid DIY disaster this summer

Carrying out DIY tasks around the home is one of the most dangerous things you can do. And as the spring and summer are the favourite seasons for getting out saws, climbing up ladders and clambering over roofs, it’s also the time of greatest risk.iStock_000012100599XSmall

Recent research from Halifax Insurance shows that there are around 250,000 DIY-caused injuries in the UK each year. Work that involves ladders is the most dangerous, with 30,000 people seeking hospital treatment after falling off one, or having one fall on them.

However, by using common sense and taking a few basic precautions, you should be able to happily complete whatever DIY jobs you’ve set yourself, as well as avoiding potentially difficult and costly insurance claims.

  1. Assemble a safety kit – Get hold of suitable footwear, goggles, dust mask, ear-defenders and a good first-aid kit (that also has eye wash!).
  2. Masks for spray painting – You’ll need a specialist mask to avoid breathing in the vapour from spray paint, a normal dust mask won’t do.
  3. Use an electric cable detector – Electric shocks are one of the most common causes of DIY-related injury, often due to hammering or drilling accidentally into a live wire. Invest in a wire and electrical detector; it could save your life.
  4. Use an RCD adapter – For the best level of safety when using power tools always make sure you plug them into an RCD adapter first as it will prevent electric shocks.
  5. Check for dangerous substances – If you suspect anything you’re working on could contain asbestos, such as artex or painted ceilings which are textured, get it checked out first. Also be careful with materials that flake or crumble to powder easily.
  6. Always turn the power off – If you’re working with electrics, don’t risk it, always turn the power off.
  7. Power tools – Make sure you know how to use them. If you’ve hired a power tool for the weekend, such as a sander or circular saw, get the hire firm to demonstrate how to use it first.
  8. Beware ladders! – The most dangerous of DIY tools is the ladder, with Halifax research showing the majority of deaths occurring during DIY tasks involve a ladder.
  9. Inspect the ladder – Check a ladder over thoroughly before using it. Make sure catches are secure and working. Be especially careful using old wooden ladders.
  10. Lean the ladder correctly – Never lean a ladder against a wall at more than a 70 degree angle. And ideally have someone at the foot of the ladder to help hold it steady.
  11. Ladder overreach – It’s easy to stretch out that little bit too far and lose your balance while up a ladder. Think twice and don’t do it.
  12. Pets and children – Never work with pets and children, the old TV adage goes. It also applies to DIY; make sure you keep them well away from the work area.
  13. Don’t be over ambitious – If you’re not sure about how to complete a task, it’s probably not a good idea to start it; get a professional in.

Are you insured for DIY?

Some standard home insurance policies come without what’s known as ‘accidental damage’ cover. You’ll need to make sure yours includes this before you start your DIY, otherwise it could end up costing you dearly.

Contact your broker or insurer to find out if your policy includes accidental damage cover, and if not, you should get it added.

Policy Expert

Our dedicated customer service team is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information on what‘s covered speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email

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