Tricks of the trade to help workers
Physically demanding trade jobs can cause and exacerbate a range of injuries and health conditions. It’s not surprising that tradies are over-represented in workplace injury statistics compared to other workers. The average time off work for a tradie due to serious workplace injury is five to six weeks—time many tradies simply can’t afford, especially those who are self-employed.
To help reverse these statistics, we need to take a good look at the workplace culture and practices of many tradies and encourage them to focus more on their health and safety. That’s why our Tradies National Health Month awareness campaign is an important opportunity for physiotherapists to help bring about a change in tradie culture by educating and encouraging tradies to look after their health, not just their tools.
Tradespeople are vulnerable to a growing burden of musculoskeletal conditions and other health and safety risks, and we can help prevent and manage injuries. Tradies rely on their bodies for work—their bodies are their primary work tool, so if that breaks down or becomes incapacitated through injury or chronic illness, they can’t work to their full ability. Physiotherapists are trained in human movement so we are able to show tradies the best way to perform a task. We can help with fitness, flexibility and strength to ensure tradies are working optimally.
Our 2019 national tradies health survey highlighted the blokey culture that still persists which can lead to serious injury among Aussie tradies. Almost one third of those surveyed did not follow safe lifting guidelines, and less than one quarter warmed up or stretched before starting work for the day, despite knowing that it would be helpful. Alarmingly, almost 70 per cent of tradies said that being sore was just normal for the work they do.
By getting involved in Tradies National Health Month, physiotherapists can start meaningful conversations with their tradies patients and encourage them to prioritise their health by initiating simple exercises each day to reduce the risk of injury onsite, and provide advice on safe workplace practices.
While the majority of tradies health issues centre around musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain and soft tissue injuries, physios are also well placed to educate, treat and manage more complex health conditions like diabetes, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and stroke recovery. Occupational health physiotherapists can also visit trade worksites to assess tasks and provide advice to help manage a multitude of issues.
Tradies are an important part of our local community, so let’s celebrate Tradies National Health Month and encourage all the tradies in our lives to prioritise their health and take a few simple steps to ensure their health and wellbeing at work.
Find out more about what physio can offer tradies at choose.physio/fortradies.
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