Today wraps up Tradies National Health Month – a whole month dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our tradies, including raising awareness about the increased risks they face on the job.

Why focus so heavily on tradies? Well, unfortunately we act for many tradies who have sustained an injury in their workplace. Though the trade industry makes up less than a third of Australia’s workforce (31%), it accounts for about 58% of serious claims for workers compensation! These are figures that the industry is trying to do something about – hence a month of raising awareness, as well as providing education and training where it counts.

A key focus of the month, which is an initiative of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, has been how beneficial physio can be – both in preventing tradies injuries and treating them.
This is because so many of the injuries faced by tradies are musculoskeletal in nature – such as neck, back and tendon/muscle injuries. This is typically linked to the physically demanding aspects of trade jobs.

As a part of this Month, there are a number of Tradies Health Tips, such as:

  1. Paying attention to any physical symptoms or pain you experience – speak to a medical professional so that you can take care of it before it gets worse!
  2. Eating healthily can still give you plenty of energy – there are a lot of healthy high energy foods that can keep you going!
  3. Bringing your lunch to work when you can – it will help you save money and likely help you eat healthier.
  4. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, talk to someone – it’s the best thing you can do. There are a lot of great organisations out there who can help. Check them out here.
  5. Ensure you are getting enough restful sleep, and if you aren’t, explore options for developing better sleeping patterns. Sleep is vitally important to staying safe at work and keeping your body strong and healthy.
  6. You will often be exposed to loud noises on-site for long periods of time – ensure you have the right protective equipment for your hearing and use it!
  7. If possible, sit while working at lower levels. This is easier on your body than squatting and places less stress on your muscles – reducing your chance of injury.
  8. Construction workers in particular can be exposed to 10 times the recommended daily exposure levels of UV radiation. Make sure you wear good SPF 50+ sunscreen as well as good UV protective clothing, a hat etc.
  9. Core strength is important and can help you reduce your chance of injury and strains, if you’re looking to stay safer, strengthen your core!
  10. Power tools are a frequent cause of injury, so it’s important to make sure your tools are well maintained, comfortable and suited to you and the work you are performing.

Tradies Mental Health

Tragically, research also shows that we are losing a huge proportion of tradies to suicide and serious injury after unsuccessful attempts. Research shows that over 500 Queensland construction workers attempt suicide every year.

So while there is a huge focus on physical injury prevention, treatment and management, there is, and should be, an increasing focus on mental health and wellbeing – looking to bring down the horrifying industry statistics set out previously. This includes the MATES in construction charity, which was established back in 2008 and aims to reduce the high level of suicide in the Australia Construction Industry.

It’s not always an easy topic to talk about but it’s important to have open dialogue around these challenges, talking about the issues we’re facing and the frankly, horrifying statistics. Being aware of these is an important step towards shifting the tide, and to us all being more aware of mental health issues in the workplace.

This month has hopefully helped tradies health across the state (and country) better understand the importance of injury awareness, prevention and injury management – specifically that small aches, pains and things that don’t feel right should always be addressed before they worsen, resulting in serious injury and periods of time away from work.

Tradies (and those around them) should be aware of the challenges that they face and the high rates of injury and mental health challenges. Understanding these challenges is the first step towards hopefully bringing down the alarming rates of injury and suicide.

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