Eye expert warns DIY companies showing 'dangerous disregard' for safety

Stephen LashAn eye expert based at Southampton’s university hospitals says many DIY companies are showing a “dangerous disregard” for safety when advertising and demonstrating power tools online.

Mr Stephen Lash, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital’s eye unit, spoke out following publication of a study which looked at the promotion of eye protection in photographs and videos of models found in the power tools sections of the UK's top ten DIY company websites. 

The research project was carried out shortly after he tended to a patient blinded in one eye as a result of a severe gardening accident in which a nine inch nail perforated their eyeball.

DIY activities account for more than 30,000 eye injuries in the UK every year and, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 89% of Britons do not wear safety glasses or goggles when sawing, drilling or hammering at home. 

The results, published in the journal Eye, showed 44 of the 833 webpages viewed featured headshot images of users operating power tools – and 39% of them displayed models without any eye protection.

In addition, a search of 861 videos in the YouTube video channels of the companies’ websites found 63 which included promotional or instructional videos showed headshot footage of models using hammers, drills or saws. 

Of these, more than half (59%) performed activities without eye protection, while two out of the three videos which displayed DIY workshops for children used models with no glasses or goggles on.

“Our study has demonstrated that many DIY websites do not show adequate use of protective eyewear in photographs and that is very concerning – they are showing a dangerous disregard for the safety of their customers and those who consult them for expert guidance,” said Mr Lash, who carried out the study with final year medical student Sohaib Rufai and colleagues from the University of Southampton.

“Of even more concern were images of child models without any eye protection using hammers and drills – it is completely unacceptable.”

He added: “It is now important the findings of this study are considered by DIY companies, along with eye specialists and GPs who can advise on eye safety, in the hope that better portrayal and promotion of eye protection will occur.”

Posted on Friday 5 July 2013