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Gardening Accidents          

                            April 2009

Look out for the flowerpot!

garden accidentsSpring – and that means the garden. Most of us see gardening as a relaxing, worthwhile and pleasurable hobby. In fact, it is also very dangerous!

Each year nearly 90,000 people are injured when undertaking gardening or DIY tasks in the garden.

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has recently issued figures showing that mowing the lawn is the most dangerous activity we can undertake in the garden.

Their top ten list of the most dangerous garden tools is based on the Department of Trade and Industry’s Home Accident Surveillance System report and is as follows

1. Lawnmowers, causing 6,500 accidents each year
2 (and this is very surprising but RoSPA have confirmed it: Flowerpots, which cause 5,300 accidents each year.
3. Secateurs and pruners – 4,400 accidents
4. Spades – 3,600 accidents
5. Electric hedge strimmers – 3,100 accidents
6. Plant tubs and troughs – 2,800 accidents
7. Shears – 2,100 accidents
8. Garden forks – 2,000 accidents
9. Hoses and sprinkles – 1,900
10. Garden canes and sticks – 1,800 accidents.

Mower accidents are easy to understand, with sharp blades that are removed for cleaning; however such a high level of accidents from flowerpots seem decidedly odd. Evidently people injure themselves because they fall when carrying them; or trip over them on the ground.

Accidents happen for many reasons, but one cause is lack of planning and preparation. After a spell of grey weather, a sudden beautifully sunny day can get us all rushing out into the garden eager to start tasks without adequate thought.

There are basic safety measures of course, for instance all electric mowers and power tools must always be used with a RCD, a residual current device which will cut off the power in the event of an accident. Then there are common sense aspects such as never doing maintenance if a power tool is still plugged in and ensuring tools are carefully placed, both during use and in storage.  Chemicals such as weedkillers and insecticides can be another area of danger, and instructions should always be carefully read and followed. Author Bill Bryson once mentioned how he mixed a lot of different garden chemicals together and got a fence pole to fruit! Decidedly not something to emulate!

The actual design of your garden may need adjusting to ensure it is safer to work in; slopes instead of steps; bushes and hedges kept at a serviceable height.

The clothing you wear can also make a difference, gloves of course, but also consider goggles and even hard hats for tree work and other tasks where risk could be involved – pulling down that dead branch may trigger an unexpected fall from higher up.

Really most of it is common sense, but if it is that easy, why do over 90,000 people every year have to visit hospital because of garden accidents?  If we all take that extra care, maybe this year we can really start reducing this figure.


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