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5 essential tips for garden health and safety

There are plenty of garden tools and equipment that require care and attention, but they are not the only things that cause accidents and injuries in the garden.

To remain safe and free from harm you should consider the following 5 tips, which look at everything from tools and equipment, to hazards that cause trips and slips, and even poisonous plants.

1) Know your tools

OK you might not struggle with the basics of using tools like trowels and spades, but they can still cause injury if you don’t use them properly. If in doubt ask someone in the tool shop the best way to use your garden tools and where appropriate, read the instructions. You should also wear personal protective equipment including gloves and strong shoes.

When it comes to home and garden equipment, power tools are of course the most dangerous to operate. Lawnmowers, strimmers, hedge trimmers and chainsaws require experience to use safely, so make sure you read all safety guidelines that come with such tools, and have someone show you the best and safest way to operate them before you get to work.

2) Beware of and avoid asbestos

Some old roofs of garages and garden sheds contain asbestos, which, if inhaled can cause fatal illness. This is worth remembering if you are working in such a building, and especially if you are dismantling this kind of structure, or removing the roof. If you are unsure of what your shed or garage roof is made of, consult your local council or asbestos removal specialists. The latter will be able to remove and safely dispose of any asbestos that is found. Do not try to do this yourself.

3) Recognise poisonous plants

When you pop out to the garden to prune some bushes or plant some flowers you probably don’t think much about poisonous plants. You will probably be aware of nettles, hogweed and spiky plants, but there are others that are less well known, which could be more dangerous. Foxgloves, bluebells, angel’s trumpets and passion flowers are also poisonous and it’s worth knowing what is what.

4) Prevent electric shocks

If you use outdoor equipment requiring electric cables there is always some risk of electric shock. Thankfully an RCD (residual current device) can prevent electric shocks and electrical fires, when used with equipment such as hedge trimmers and lawn mowers. RCDs give extra protection by automatically switching off electricity if registers a fault.

5) Take care with glass and rust

Gardens often contain glass greenhouses and sheds with glass windows, and it’s obvious that you need to be careful if you are working with glass in the garden. You should also be aware that after storms and strong winds there may be broken glass in your garden to keep an eye out for.

Rust is something else that you may well find in garden outbuildings and structures, and something else around which you should be careful. Ferric oxide, as it is also known, is irritating and potentially harmful, sometimes leading to tetanus if you receive a cut from a rusty nail or piece of metal. To stay safe from rust and glass make sure you wear suitable garden gloves and strong shoes.

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