Regardless if you intend to pour a small slab or build a stone archway, tackling a masonry project demands careful attention towards your personal safety. Many injuries from caustic materials, flying shards of stones, and sharp edges can be easily avoided if you take safety precautions seriously before you proceed working on a masonry job. So to keep injuries at bay and ensure a safe working environment while you tackle your masonry project, below are some safety practices you need to keep in mind.
Wear the right attire
No matter how small your masonry project is, wearing the right clothing for the job is essential to ensuring your safety. Basically, clothing should always be kept in good repair while you work. Torn shirt or work pants may snag on your tools or materials which can cause slips or fall. At the most, shirt sleeves and tails and pant cuffs should be buttoned or rolled up so they do not catch on materials and ladders or scaffolding when working on heights.
Wear protective equipment
Stone products can be health hazards. While being cut, shards of stone can hit your eyes and the dust they produce may irritate your skin. To prevent any of these from happening, always wear protective equipment as you work around your masonry project. Protective gear such as particle mask, eyewear, and gloves are vital equipment that will help ensure your safety when handling or mixing dry mixes and when using cutting and striking tools such as saws, chisels and mauls.
Keep your work area clean and organized
It is a good idea to designate an area where you can organize all your tools and equipment while they are not in use. Likewise, dedicate a space where you can safely stack your masonry products. The accepted method for stacking masonry products is that they should be vertically in line and should not be stacked too high to avoid them from falling. Do not forget to keep the work area clean at all times to make it easier for you to locate items when you need them.
Lift with care
More often than not, working on a masonry project may involve lifting and transporting heavy stone and tools from one location to another. To avoid suffering from unnecessary, painful injuries like back strain and even hernia, it is a good idea to wear a lifting belt.
Also, use safe lifting techniques when moving masonry products. For instance, before moving a stone, make sure to remove all scraps from the area where the object will be moved and make sure that it is free from slopes, holes and uneven footing as these things can be hazards. Then, examine the best way to pick and grip the stone. When you are ready to lift it, be sure to keep your feet as close to the stone as possible and apply good grip. Bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting the stone, and keep it as close to your body as you move it to the new location. If you feel that the masonry product’s weight is questionable, do not attempt to lift it on your own. Instead, get extra help to avoid injuring yourself.
Be mindful of power tools
Be sure to pay special attention when you using power tools for your project. Use GFCI extension cord if you need to plug power tools outdoors or if the materials are wet. This type of extension cord protects against electrical shock that can be caused by a faulty tool or worn or wet plug or cord.
Work safely on heights
For projects that require extended time working at heights, use a scaffolding or ladder. However, do not forget to inspect the scaffold or ladder before use to ensure that it is safe. It should be set on a firm base and tied to a secure post or support so that it will not be dislodged. The areas on which you need to step should be free of clutter and should offer some type of grip for your hands. If you need to carry tools on the scaffold or ladder, place them in a tool bag, shove a plumb rule through the bag’s handle and sling it over your shoulder. This will make it easier for you to ascend to and descend from the scaffolding or ladder.
Ericka, who wrote the post above, is a freelance writer who has written a number of articles about a wide variety of topics, though she is particularly interested in construction and home improvement. She is also a regular contributor for www.mcintyremasonry.co.uk.