Tradies play a key role in keeping our country running smoothly: ensuring the lights are on, the water is running and there’s a roof over our heads. It will be unsurprising to know that tradies, who comprise of technicians and trades workers, labourers, and machinery operators, account for some of the highest rates of workplace injury. The nature of their work can be hazardous. While tradies only account for 30% of workers, 3 in 5 serious workplace injuries involve a tradie. Despite this, there are many ways our tradies can stay healthy and safe.
Ways to keep tradies healthy and happy
Maintain training and upskilling
Being a master of your trade is one really good way to prevent injury. Knowing exactly what to do and when to do it can help alleviate any problems before they occur. Keeping up-to-date with new processes and updating your skills set will not only improve your work, but help keep you safe as well.
Watch for hazards
Being aware of your surroundings and knowing where accidents are most likely to occur is essential in injury prevention. Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of injury, so it’s essential to keep your workplace clear of hazards.
Use protective clothing and equipment
Wearing protective clothing and using protective equipment goes without saying, but tradies also need to make sure they are using safety gear correctly. It’s not enough to simply have it as it won’t protect you if it’s not being employed properly.
- Both on the roads and on work sites, safe driving is essential.
- Never speed on roads and, especially, on site where there are a lot of pedestrians.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Secure your loads.
- Watch out for dangerous surfaces that may be difficult to drive on.
- Put up signage onsite if driving a vehicle, such as a forklift.
Be sun smart
Working outdoors in the harsh Australian sun can wreak havoc on your skin. Always use sunscreen, wear a hat and cover yourself with appropriate clothing. Staying well hydrated in hot weather is important to avoid heat stress.
Back to basics
With the constant heavy lifting required by tradies, back injuries are very common. Learning techniques to properly lift heavy items is vital in looking after your back. If you’re able to use a trolley if they’re available and ask for help from colleagues. Ensuring your seat in your vehicle is in the right position also, sitting for a long time in an awkward position can cause problems. Stretching at the start and end of a work day can also help with back issues.
A healthy diet is essential to keeping your body in tip-top shape. Tradies often perform hard physical labour, so a healthy diet will ensure your body is up to the task and keep you active for longer in your career.
A lot of tradies remain physically fit from their day-to-day work, but they neglect the importance of exercise outside of work. Stretching and yoga can help prevent muscle injuries. Strengthening your core muscles through resistance exercises or Pilates can also prevent back and muscle injuries. Swimming and other cardio exercise can help ensure you’re fit and able to perform your work duties. Exercise is also a great stress release and aids a healthy mind.
Stay mentally well
According to Mates in Construction, around 190 people in the construction industry die from suicide every year in Australia.
Depression and anxiety has been a taboo topic for too long, but we’re now aware of the effect it can have and the importance of seeking treatment. Talking and checking in with colleagues is important. Visit your GP or contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue for assistance.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
It’s well known that drugs and alcohol can have a negative impact on our ability to operate machinery and drive a vehicle. Always watch your alcohol and drug use and if you’re prescribed a new medication, investigate any side effects it may have.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 2, 2019.