Tending an allotment is one of the most rewarding (and calming) hobbies there is. But, no matter how relaxing you find it, it’s still best to exercise plenty of caution while you’re pottering around your plot – especially when you’re working with electrical equipment.
Every year, 300,000 people require a trip to the hospital after injuring themselves while working in their allotment or garden, and many of the more severe injuries are caused by electricity. In fact, a third of all gardeners say that they’ve had an electrical-related accident while working outdoors.
With that in mind, here are a few simple tips you can follow to try and make sure you’re not one of them!
Make sure you have RCDs (Residual Current Devices) fitted
An RCD prevent fires and shocks by immediately cutting off electricity supply if there’s a fault.
Say for example you cut through your mower or hedge trimmer cable – which is the cause of a massive 25% of all garden accidents – then an RCD will protect you from injury. In fact, this little device could well save your life.
You should make sure that any socket where you’ll be plugging in power tools or gardening equipment has RCD protection, and also get the RCD tested every three months to make sure it’s still working properly.
Choose your electrical equipment carefully
They say a bad workman always blames his tools, but you certainly don’t want to end up blaming them for any injuries…
Cheap or otherwise shoddy equipment often won’t do as good a job, and it can be dangerous too; choosing the rights tools for the task is not only a matter of pride in your work but also of safety.
To avoid a nasty shock, only buy electrical gardening equipment from reputable manufacturers. And remember that any extension leads or cables you want to use around your allotment should be weather-resistant with moulded connections to prevent moisture from getting in.
Use electrical equipment responsibly
Most gardening accidents are caused by human error of some sort, so here are a few easy-to-follow pointers on ensuring you keep yourself as safe as possible:
- It can feel unnecessary and time consuming (especially if you’re faced with a 50-pager), but always read the entire instruction manual before attempting to operate any power tools, movers or hedge trimmers.
- Fully uncoil cables to avoid the risk of them overheating during use.
- Water and electricity don’t mix, so make sure the conditions are completely dry before using any electrical equipment.
- Always wear gloves and goggles when you’re using a hedge trimmer.
- Switch off and unplug equipment before attempting to adjust or clean it.
- Regularly check your electrical tools for any damage.
This blog was provided by UK charity Electrical Safety First, which is currently trying to reduce the number of gardening accidents by asking manufacturers to improve the safety advice they print on their boxes through the ‘Get smart in the garden’ campaign.