Tradies urged to keep a check on health and wellbeing

Worker on scaffold

With 42% of construction workers’ compensation claims in Queensland due to musculoskeletal injuries – 33% of those are back related – tradies need to watch more than just their backs and look after all aspects of their health and wellbeing.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common workplace injury type across all industries, not just construction. They can occur suddenly or over time, and include muscle sprains and strains, back injuries, joint degeneration, nerve injuries, and chronic pain. The top three most common causes are lifting, carrying or putting down objects, falls, and repetitive movement or strain.

Tradies National Health month in August is a great time for tradies to focus on what they can do to reduce their risk of injury at work. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) encourages tradies to keep a check on their safety, health and wellbeing.

Physiotherapists top tips for tradies

The below tips from the APA focus on two areas – get a grip on the way you handle objects and you don’t need a six pack to be ‘fit for work’.

Get a grip on the way you handle objects

Don’t overdo it on the job. The majority of injuries are to joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.

So watch how you are handling objects:

* Keep your chest up where possible when handling

* Keep loads close to the body

* Avoid awkward and twisted postures

* Ask for assistance when required

* Use equipment to make tasks safer and easier

Something doesn’t feel right? Early intervention of niggles, aches and pains prevents a small problem turning into a large one. Injuries shouldn’t affect your work, family and social life. So don’t ignore the warning signs.

You don’t need a six pack to be ‘fit for work’

Being fit for work doesn’t mean having chiselled abs, going for a run at the end of the day or benching 80kgs.

Performing a simple set of preventative stretches and exercises can keep your joints and muscles ‘fit’ and avoid injury.

It’s the small things that help you keep fit for work:

* Can you bend and reach without strain? Keep your flexibility by doing 5-10 minutes of stretching every morning

* Take frequent micro-breaks during the day rather than infrequent long breaks

* Stay hydrated—2-3 litres of water is what you need!

* Keep your core strong—go with your other half to Pilates once in a while

* Sleep well and eat well—give yourself energy to help you remain healthy, alert and safe

WorkCover statistics show claims are down

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager, Construction, Melanie Stojanovic said Tradies National Health month was a good opportunity for all tradespeople to take stock of their work fitness and make sure they were doing all the right things to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

“While the focus is on for the month of August, it’s important that workers continue their behaviour change for the duration of their career,” she said.

“Our data shows that 42% of claims in 2015-2016 were for musculoskeletal injuries (down from 46% the previous year), and 33% of those were back related. If we could reduce that again by just a few percent, that’s a huge help as it means less injuries, less time off work, and therefore more productivity in the construction industry.”

WorkCover has been raising awareness of common causes and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries with our customers in all industries since April 2016.

A range of resources on this topic are listed below, or you can call us on 1300 362 128.

Resources

Serious about safe business pack

Safe Work Month resources, including films and other educational materials

Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks resources

Construction industry workplace hazards

Construction industry health and wellbeing at work

The ‘Big Three’ causes of musculoskeletal injuries

Four simple steps to prevent fall injuries

Tradies Health website

Last updated
09 September 2016