Caring for your health helps you to be happier at work and in your personal life. But when you’re a hardworking tradie, it can be easy to put the job first and neglect your wellbeing.
Working long hours can lead to poor eating habits, a lack of time for exercise and unhealthy smoking or excessive drinking to unwind. Tradies are also at higher risk of workplace injuries.
According to St John Ambulance, trades work accounts for nearly 60% of all workplace injuries, despite tradies making up only 30% of the workforce.
Staying mentally healthy is important as well. Neglecting your mental wellbeing can lead to other physical and mental health problems. For example, statistics show construction workers are 70% more likely than other employees to take their own life.
So what are some useful health tips for tradies?
Preventative health tips for tradies
From workplace safety to managing stress, here are some strategies that can help prevent or lower the risk of serious health problems, and improve wellbeing.
- Safe work practices – common workplace injuries for tradies include joint and ligament sprains, wounds and lacerations, musculoskeletal problems and fractures. Following health and safety guidelines can help you avoid these types of injuries. This includes practising safe lifting and manual handling, wearing required PPE and keeping safe at heights with height safety equipment.
- Sun protection – working outside can increase your risk of skin cancer tenfold, according to the Cancer Council. Wearing sunglasses, hats and sunscreen while outside can drastically reduce your risk.
- Work breaks – avoid being tempted to work through breaks to get things done. A proper rest break or smoko helps you refresh and recharge, and perform better.
Healthy personal behaviours
- Good nutrition – rather than quickly grabbing a deep-fried takeaway, consider some healthier options like wholemeal sandwiches and fruit, or leftovers from home-cooked meals (kept in a fridge or esky of course!).
- Exercise – even if your job is physical, regular exercise outside of work remains important for helping you to keep fit and reducing your risk of strains and sprains. Recommendations include cardio, strength training, swimming, stretching and Pilates.
- Hydration – staying hydrated during the working day is extremely important. But rather than automatically reaching for a can of soft drink or an energy drink when you’re thirsty, take a bottle of fresh water to work and refill it throughout the day.
- Sleep – trying to survive on a few hours of sleep each night will eventually catch up with you and harm your work performance. 7-9 hours a night is generally recommended for adults of working age.
- Reduce alcohol – If your drinking is interfering with your work or your relationships, seek assistance for reducing or quitting alcohol.
- Quit the smokes – there is no healthy or safe level of tobacco smoking. If you’re a smoker, look into how you can quit completely.
- Manage stress – ways to manage stress include regular relaxation, mindfulness, looking after physical health, recognising your triggers and preparing for stressful events.
- Speak up – men are often less inclined than women to speak up when they are suffering mentally. If you have been suffering in silence, now might be the time to speak to your doctor or mental health professional, or even just to a trusted friend.
- Look out for mates – if you notice a workmate looking like they might be struggling, take the time to start a conversation and check how they are going.
Want to find out more?
Here are some links to further information on safeguarding your health and wellbeing:
Australian Physiotherapy Association – videos on stretching exercises and injury prevention, created especially for tradies.
Cancer Council – sun smart app for UV safety tips and alerts.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation – help for problems with drinking or drug-taking.
Quit - programs to help you quit smoking.
This Way Up – free 4-lesson program for effective stress management.
Mates in Construction – suicide prevention and support for construction workers.
Beyond Blue – tips for looking out for your mates.
Looking after your health and wellbeing is key to performing well and being successful in your business. Why not give some of these tips a try?