As COVID-19 has reduced travel and most activities outside the home, many have refocused their energies on do-it-yourself projects, which can come with their own set of risks, most commonly hand, arm, elbow and shoulder injuries. From crafty décor to landscaping and home improvement, board-certified and fellowship-trained upper extremity surgeon Dr. John Flint at Flagstaff Bone & Joint offers expert safety guidelines for adults and families to follow while undertaking any project this fall. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (928) 773-2280 to schedule a safe appointment in Flagstaff at 77 West Forest Avenue, Suite 301, or at the practice’s Kingman office at 2331 Hualapai Mountain Road, Suite A. Televisit appointments are also available. For urgent needs, make a same-day appointment or walk into Flagstaff Bone & Joint’s Injury Care Clinic available in Flagstaff.
"For those taking on home improvement and even craft projects while they spend more time at home during COVID-19, there is often a risk for minor and serious hand, wrist, shoulder and elbow injuries," says Dr. Flint. "From roof repair and landscaping to do-it-yourself home décor, my colleagues and I wanted to share a list of guidelines for completing projects safely."
Follow these safety tips from Flagstaff Bone & Joint to help avoid injuries when taking on a project:
- Use appropriate tools properly: Ensure you have the right tools for your project and know how to use them safely. Even hammering without proper form can mean breaking bones in your hand and other injuries. Even in the case of small tools, such as scissors and craft knives, deep cuts and even nerve injuries are common. If children are helping with a project, have them stick to noncutting tasks and keep them away from sharp objects.
- Use extra caution with power tools: From drills and saws to sewing machines, lawn mowers and weed whackers, be sure you know exactly how to operate a machine before you use it. To avoid a variety of traumatic musculoskeletal injuries, make sure your machine is stable and holding your complete focus, and do not put your hand or arm near drill bits, moving blades or needles before a machine is turned off completely.
- Wear proper attire: Safely using equipment also means being dressed properly. Be sure to use eye protection, a dust mask and/or gloves as needed. Take off any dangling jewelry and do not wear loose sleeves or baggy clothes that may trip you or get caught. If you have long hair, wear it up and out of the way. Do not wear shorts or sandals or have bare feet while working on your project.
- Keep clutter out of your workspace: Make sure you do your work in a well-lit, clean and dry area and that all working surfaces are stable. You should also place tools that are not being used in a safe location out of the way and out of children's reach as necessary to help you avoid tripping injuries, like bruises, strains and joint sprains.
- Practice ladder safety: To avoid fall-related injuries, such as fractures, shoulder or elbow dislocations, rotator cuff tears or more severe injuries, be sure to place ladders on a flat surface. Keep the weight centered and do not overextend to reach any item. Also, make sure someone is holding the ladder.
- Be sure to take breaks: Taking breaks and varying your tasks can help prevent acute injuries, such as strains in your back, forearm and upper arm muscles, as well as chronic injuries, such as chronic tendon inflammation or nerve compression conditions, like cubital tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. Listen to your body, especially if heavy lifting is involved.
"If you sustain an injury while working with tools or doing heavy lifting and you feel any numbness, pain or have loss of movement in your arm or other extremities, seek medical attention," says Dr. Flint. "Serious injuries should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible."
Dr. Flint is a board-certified and fellowship-trained upper extremity surgeon specializing in the elbow, hand, shoulder and wrist. He is available to see patients at Flagstaff Bone & Joint’s offices located in Flagstaff and Kingman.
To learn more about orthopaedic safety or to schedule a safe appointment with Dr. Flint or one of the many experts at Flagstaff Bone & Joint, call (928) 773-2280.