13 Tradie tips for better health and well being
August is Tradies National Health Month – an awareness initiative that focuses on the importance of tradie health. It was established by the Australian Physiotherapy Association because physiotherapists are uniquely placed to prevent and treat musculoskeletal concerns throughout a worker’s lifespan.
Of course, we also understand the toll that long hours doing physical work can take. Work Safe Victoria found that in the last 12 months in Victoria:
- Construction has the third highest number of injury-related claims across all industries.
- Tradies working in carpentry, plumbing and electrical have been some of the most affected with the highest number of injuries.
- One-third of these claims are due to injuries sustained from manual handling.
- Mental health continues to be a growing challenge for worksites.
In the interests of better health and well being outcomes, we’ve come up with some simple tips to help tradies.
- Warming up
This might sound silly but just as an athlete warms up for physical activities, so should you. Just a few minutes at the start of your work day is all that’s needed. Warming up helps increase blood flow to your muscles and reduces the risk of injuries. It also activates and primes the connections between your nerve and muscles, which improves the efficiency of movement. Focus on stretching major muscle groups like your legs, arms ad back to improve flexibility.
- Check tools and equipment
Regularly inspect your tools and equipment to make sure they’re in safe working order. Many an injury can be avoided by this simple action. If a tool seems damaged or faulty, don’t risk it.
- Supportive footwear
Invest in high quality work boots that provide adequate support for your feet and ankles. Quality footwear will not only enhance comfort when you’re spending long hours on your feet, but will also reduce the risk of foot related injuries and conditions.
- Protect your skin
The Australian sun can be intense, but even on cloudy days it’s important to wear sunscreen. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a broad spectrum of protection and reapply as recommended. Don’t forget a shirt, hat and sunglasses. A 2022 Cancer Council and Australian Government study found that 34% of tradespeople surveyed have either been treated for skin cancer or another suspicious spot themselves and 58% knew of other tradespeople who have had skin cancer. Don’t become a statistic.
- Regular exercise
Even though your job is a physical and active one, you can still benefit from regular exercise. Different sports or physical activity can improve your strength, endurance and overall health. Individual activities like walking, hiking or swimming can provide moments of quiet and calm, while team sports can provide social interaction. Both types of activity can help with stress and overall mental well being.
- Proper lifting techniques
When lifting heavy objects or materials, use proper techniques to prevent strain and injury. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use the strength in your legs and core to lift the load. If you’re concerned about weight loads or any other safety matter on site, speak to your supervisor so it can be addressed.
- Healthy eating
It’s easy to grab fast food when you’re busy and on the run, but eating this way every day is detrimental to your overall health. Opt for a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Preparing your lunch the night before will help you make better food choices.
- Stay hydrated
Working outdoors, in the heat or in physically demanding jobs can lead to hydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep you hydrated and prevent heat related illness. Avoid high sugar energy drinks as they can lead to long term health problems.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
Smoking and vaping can damage your respiratory system and overall health, while excessive alcohol consumption can impair your ability to work safely and can also lead to long term health issues. Avoiding these things will keep you in better shape.
- Regular health checks
Schedule regular health checks with your doctor to address any concerns you have, and to monitor your overall health. Often, this leads to picking up problems earlier making them easier to address. A regular appointment with a physio can also manage any musculoskeletal issues and ensure your body is moving as it should.
- Take breaks
Regular short breaks throughout the day are essential to help your body rest and recharge. They can boost your productivity, reduce fatigue and help prevent burnout. You’re also entitled by law to certain breaks so make sure you understand your entitlements under your award.
- Manage stress
Tradies often face high pressure situations so it’s essential to implement stress management techniques. These can include breathing exercises, mindfulness and engaging in hobbies or sports you enjoy. If you’re finding that you’re not managing a work life balance and everything is overwhelming, please seek help from an expert. Even a chat to another person can help guide you to a better state of mind.
- Prioritise sleep
Aim for 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night. That means completely switching off from phones, TVs and other devices. Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery, mental clarity and overall well being. You’ll be able to make better and safer decisions if your mind is rested and alert.
By following these tips, you’ll find yourself in better physical and mental health. This means a longer career and a happier retirement when you decide to give the tools away.
TIV is a trade school well known for its practical courses and support of student well being. To find out more about our courses, contact our friendly advisors on 03 933 9511 or visit www.tiv.vic.edu.au.