Last August we saw the launch of Tradies National Health Month, and with it, some concerning findings from the Empirica Research Survey commissioned by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). Apparently, Aussie tradies are spending more of their time caring about the condition of their tools than they are their own wellbeing.
Findings show that 79% of tradies are proud of maintaining high quality equipment, but when it came to their physical and mental health, only 47% said they share the same commitment, despite being in professions with one of the highest rates of injury. Unfortunately, too many tradies seem to think that common injuries are merely part and parcel of the job, and ‘toughen-up’ so they can work through it.
But is that really what’s best for those working in our trades industries?
Further findings from APA research state 64% of Aussie tradies have incurred some form of injury in their jobs, and 50% of those claim to expect further injury in the future. This might come as a shock for those outside the trades industries, but according to APA National President Phil Calvert, ‘many tradies are not seeking treatment or are delaying treatment until their injury becomes a much bigger and more complex issue.’ Issues are most commonly associated with the knees, shoulders, and lower back, but almost a quarter of the tradies who participated in the Empirica Survey confessed they did not seek treatment for their injuries, and as a result struggled with chronic suffering and longer recovery periods.
This attitude of having to simply grin and bear all the aches and pains that arise from the job is not only damaging tradies’ physical wellbeing, but also their mental health as well. The Empirica Survey also showed that 20% reported suffering from a mental health issues stemming from injuries sustained at work.
Overcoming the problem
In addressing the problem of work-related injuries, Mr Calvert said that a proper warm up regimen before work commences that involve adequate stretching and the practise of appropriate lifting techniques could go a long way to helping prevent injuries. Most importantly, the attitude around workplaces needs to shift to something more sensible. Only 68% of tradies claim to follow safe lifting guidelines, with merely 23% saying they warm up before work. The stigma surrounding caring for your physical and mental health as being ‘weak’ must be subverted, as early treatment from a physio can be an effective solution in reducing and removing the exacerbation of a wide range of conditions whilst on the job.
Tradies National Health Month is only one month on the calendar but should encourage tradies across Australia to work together in having more consideration for their physical and mental wellbeing throughout the year. If you or someone you work with is suffering from an injury, do not continue the belief that you must ‘work through it’. By getting early treatment, you will be able to work longer and stronger into the future. Invest in your health.