In honour of Tradies National Health Month, we wanted to open up the conversation surrounding workplace health and safety hazards that tradies experience and how physiotherapy can help alleviate some of the stress of the job. According to statistics provided by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, despite only making up 35% of the workforce, tradies are involved in almost 3 in 5 serious workplace injuries. Not only is a tradies’ job physically demanding and can cause enormous strain on the muscles, but the ‘blokey’ culture that is still prevalent has contributed to somewhat flippant attitudes toward their own health and safety.
As a tradie your body is your most important work tool so protecting your body’s health and safety should be the number one priority. Tradies undertake a lot of physical exertion such as lifting, carrying and being on their feet for long periods of time making them susceptible to workplace injuries. The most common workplace health and safety injury we see from tradies at our clinic is back pain as it is the most frequently used body part on the job.
Our backs are one of the largest muscle groups which we use for supporting our bodyweight and for a variety of movements such as pushing, pulling, lifting, etc. Since it is a large muscle group that is used a lot, it tends to get strained or overworked when it struggles to keep up with the repetitive physical demands we place on it whilst on the job.
We often hear from tradies that they are constantly bending their backs and lifting heavy loads. This can result in sudden back pain when the back muscles and spinal ligaments are strained. This makes it even more important to practice proper lifting techniques and use any equipment available when lifting a heavy load on the job. Constant strain on our back muscles can lead to painful muscle spasms or sharp shooting pains up the spine. Once back pain occurs it is imperative to allow for adequate rest and recovery to reduce the stress on the muscles.
However we understand that a trades job is quite timely and taking a long rest period might not be an available option all the time. That is where physiotherapy for injury prevention steps in. Physiotherapists can help assist with providing exercises that strengthen frequently used muscles to prevent workplace health and safety injuries before it happens. Some of our personal favourite abdominal and back muscle exercises to builds muscle strength and flexibility includes:
- Knee to chest
- Lower back extensions
- Lower back rotations
- Dead bug
- V-Sits ups
However, it is important to consult with your physiotherapist or doctor before deciding on which exercises are right for you to carry out.
Other tips you can practice to ensure your safety and longevity on the job are:
- Adequate warming up each morning with your workmates before you start work such as dynamic movements and sustained stretches
- Pace your workload throughout the day to avoid overusing and fatiguing your muscles
- Take breaks to allow for short moments for rest and recovery when you start feeling tired or sore
- Do not be afraid to speak up if you feel you are at risk of injury whilst on the job
- If you experience any persistent muscles pains, seek advice from your physiotherapist
- Immediately attend to injuries with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
Tradies’ workplace health and safety must be everyone’s top priority from workmates, employers, loved ones and tradies themselves. Here at Goldfields Physio, we recognize the importance of valuing your health and safety and provide solutions to maintain employees’ workplace health and safety and wellbeing for optimal performance at work. Through our Corporate Health Initiatives we provide a variety of services including:
No matter where you are – in the clinic or online, our expert physiotherapy team will always be there to help you achieve your goals. Book a consultation today with one of our highly skilled physiotherapists or call 9091 1739 to ensure you are achieving optimal performance with minimal risk of workplace injuries.