Restrictions vital to stop DIY deaths

DIY disasters can get very serious, very quickly, as media reports this week show.

Hawke's Bay Today yesterday ran the story of a 42-year-old Auckland man - a carpenter by trade - who died after being electrocuted while apparently undertaking DIY electrical work under his house.

Also at the weekend, a 29-year-old man ended up in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit after another domestic accident. He received serious head injuries when he fell 10m to the ground after being struck by a branch he had cut while pruning trees.

Accident Compensation Corporation figures from 2009 show just how blithely we Kiwis take on potentially deadly jobs around the house and come off the worse. DIY disasters killed almost 600 people in the year to June. That's 11 people dead every week from activities such as falling off ladders or being electrocuted.

We would be horrified if our driving fatalities were that high - goodness knows they are bad enough - yet fatal accidents in the home do not receive the same attention.

Last year, 658,000 people suffered household injuries, which cost $641 million to the nation, an average of $975 for each of us.

In New Zealand, non-electricians are allowed to install new wiring but not connect the wiring to the electricity supply.

But Police and the Electrical Safety Organisation have warned homeowners to call in tradesmen for work they are unfamiliar with.

The DIY disaster figures for New Zealand, argue strongly in favour of following the lead of the United Kingdom and banning people from doing their own electrical work.