Safety is incredibly important when doing any DIY job and it’s even more important when laying driveways or paving. The materials can be dangerous and are often very heavy, so there are many hazards waiting for the unwary. We cannot, of course, give guidance for every occurrence but here are some guidelines that should be followed as an absolute minimum when Laying Driveways and working with Paving.
Machinery and Electricity
First, some general guidelines about working with machinery. It is of paramount importance to follow manufacturers’ instructions and safety guidelines. Always arrange hoses and electrical cables for machinery like cement mixers or pressure washers so that they can’t be tripped over.
Electrical connections for machinery should ideally come from properly wired up external weatherproof sockets. If there isn’t one available, use an extension with surge protection and connect it to a handy socket with a residual-current device (RCD) which you can find at any DIY store.
Protect your Feet
Footwear is well worth investing in. Safety boots (with steel toecaps and other protection) can be bought for less than £30 and when you consider the total amount you’ll spend on a driveway or paving job that’s a very small additional cost. Paving slabs are heavy and can do a lot of damage if you’re only wearing trainers or wellies.
Having said that, wellies also have their place, particularly if you are working with cement. The active ingredients in the cement mix will attack the stitching of any other kind of boot so you need footwear that will resist this. Just don’t be tempted to stick with the wellies when you switch to lifting slabs or bags of concrete or sand.
Eye Protection and Masks
You only get one pair of eyes so it makes sense to take good care of them. You must wear protective goggles when cutting any slabs and it makes good sense to get into the habit of wearing them all the time, to be honest. This is because the dust that comes off cement and other aggregates is often irritating.
For the same reason a mask is also very important. Again it makes sense to wear a mask all the time, just so that it becomes a habit. The dust from cement is irritable to the lungs, so make sure your mask is classified for working with it. The relevant mark to look for will be BS EN 149:2001 or BS EN 143:2000, both of which cover respiratory protective devices.
Protective Clothing and Gloves
Having already talked about the irritant nature of the constituents of many driveway and paving materials, it’s no surprise that the next suggestion is gloves. Look for rubberised gloves when handling concrete and paving blocks. Similarly, wear proper overalls or other work gear to prevent, as far as reasonably possible, irritants working their way in next to your skin.
When cement is wet it is far more dangerous. It is important to remove any wet cement from the skin straight away with plenty of water, and if it gets in the eyes, medical attention should be sought straight away.
Take Health and Safety Seriously
Health and safety has a bit of a bad reputation at the moment for being part of a ‘nanny state’ culture. But sensible precautions make complete sense and should be taken at all times.