Tradies make up about a third of the Australian work-force. Despite this they make up 60% of serious work-place injuries, according to the Safe Work Australia statistics. Tradies National Health Month is the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s awareness campaign that gets tradies to look into their most valuable asset – their body!
This August, we hope to illuminate the small changes that can be made to improve health outcomes and reduce time off due to injury or illness. These positive benefits flow through to families, businesses and communities.
So I’m a tradie, how can I reduce my risk of injury a work?
The majority of work-place injuries happen when that niggling pain gets ignored, when you are distracted or rushing, or when improvising with tools or equipment. Tradies can follow a few simple steps to help reduce the chance of injury:
- Take your time planning the job: Do I have the tools? Is it safe? Do I need help? Can I get it done in that time frame? If the answer is no to any of these, have a look at what measures you can put into place before starting.
- Take stock of how things in your life can influence your work. We all know it’s not safe to drive when you are not paying attention or tired, so how about when you’re on the drop saw?
- Get the niggle looked at! Seek advice from your physiotherapist as soon as you feel a niggle. The earlier you see a physio for even the smallest injury, the quicker it will get better and the less chance your work will be impacted.
- Have a think about the repetitive bending or awkward positions you might get into in a day at work. Being more flexible is a great way to improve your tolerance to these movements and avoid injury. Here are some great ones to try:
- Bending to touch your toes to get the hamstrings and back going.
- Sitting in a squat and using elbows to push knees apart.
- Hugging one knee to the opposite shoulder to get the glute and hip muscles stretching.
- Putting your arm up on the wall and turning to stretch out the chest.
- Lying on the floor and extending through your back, pressing through your hands.
I get a sore back at work, what can I do?
- Stay fit and flexible – having the strength and mobility to get the job done is the most important variable.
- Ask for help – we all know you COULD lift it, but think of your body before you break it.
- Think about what position your back is in before you lift. Neutral is best (not too curved and not too extended) with feet spread wide to increase your base, makes the lift easy.
- Ask about a risk assessment if you feel that job’s you’re doing aren’t safe – your foreman, manager or boss should be able to help here.
Physiotherapy can be enormously beneficial in helping to prevent and manage injuries. Physiotherapists are trained in human movement and are able to show you the best way to perform a task. This can be done in a one-on-one consultation before progressing to independent training and stretching at home.