August is Tradies National Health Month, and we’re doing our bit to help raise awareness of the health and injury risks affecting trade workers. As compensation lawyers, we see a fair share of workplace compensation claims land on our desk due to activities and incidents causing minor and significant injuries.
Although there’s not much that can be done when you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, there might be some steps you can take to improve your personal safety and the safety of your work mates on site.
Tradies are at higher risk of injury
Due to the physical nature of trade work, tradies and labourers are at a high risk of being injured at work. According to Safe Work Australia, labourers accounted for almost a quarter (24 per cent) of all serious claims in 2016-17, followed by technicians and trades workers (18 per cent).
Common injuries might be back pain (because of heavy lifting and carrying), shoulder strain from repetitive reaching and movement, knee injuries from squatting and heavy lifting, and ankle sprains if working on uneven ground.
5 tips to look after your health at work
Let’s face it – injuries are no fun, especially when they’ll affect your income. Here are a few simple ways to take care of your health while working on site.
- Enlist a physiotherapist to perform a worksite risk assessment
Assuming your workplace health and safety officer has already done an official one of these, why not take it next level and enlist the help of a physio to identify physical injury risks, like, unstretched muscles or overworked muscles. They can create a warmup/warm down plan to limber up the team.
- Get the gang together for pre-work warmups
Whether it’s the cooler winter months or a steamin’ summer morning, it’s good practice to start your day with safe stretches to warm up those muscles for injury prevention. Stretch your hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps, pecs, and consider regular hand and forearm stretches to relax hands that are gripping tools all day.
- See your doctor or physio when there’s ongoing pain or discomfort
Ignoring aches, pain and ongoing niggles might lead to more serious or long-term injuries that could have been prevented. Get your injuries checked out early – it may help you avoid future time off work.
- Pace yourself
Try not to rush your work or ‘overdo’ it, as you’re more likely to expose yourself to greater risk of injury. Say ‘no’ or ask for help – better that than time off work.
- Practice mindfulness
According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, many tradies get hand injuries when their mind is not completely on the job. See if you can introduce a regular morning mindfulness practice to help you enter your worksite with a clear and calm mind, so you can focus on the task at hand (pun intended). Not only will meditation help you focus, but it could help to improve your mental wellbeing if you’re feeling stressed or down.
Take care of your health and wellbeing
When we talk about health, we’re talking about mental health and wellbeing as well as physical health. Use this month to kick start new habits and take better care of yourself, so you can reduce your risk of injury at work.
If you’ve been injured at work and you think you might have a compensation claim – you can get in touch with our compensation lawyers for a free case review to learn more about your options.