Make health an important part of your toolkit

Published: 11 September 2017

According to Safe Work Australia, tradies account for 60 per cent of injury and musculoskeletal disorders across all occupations. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is calling on all tradies and their employers to be proactive about their health and get their muscle or joint pain and other health concerns seen to promptly.

"Australians’ reliance on the work that tradies do is huge, so we should all encourage the tradies in our life to look after their health,” says APA National President, Phil Calvert. “Not caring for their health can lead to injury and time off work that has long-term impacts when not managed properly.”

•       Tradies account for 39 per cent of all medical conditions across occupations
•       Median lost work time for tradies as a result of serious claims is 5.4 weeks
•       40 per cent of serious claims by tradies are for upper limb injuries to hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

How can physio help? 

Many people assume that tradies’ health concerns are solely musculoskeletal, such as back pain and tendon or muscle injuries. While these conditions are common for tradies seeking treatment, physios treat and manage a whole range of health conditions - from sports injuries through to chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Even stroke recovery, exercise prescription and pelvic floor issues (that actually affect many men). Physically demanding work can exacerbate all of these conditions, but physio can help – either through a prescribed preventive management exercise program tailored to individual needs or as post-injury rehabilitation.  

Tim’s story 

Tim, a mechanical fitter in Western Australia, was working on the differential of a front-end loader when he injured his chest and bicep trying to crack the sump plug. He immediately felt pain across his chest and used ice packs to help manage it, but he continued to work.
A few days later, Tim developed severe bruising so he decided to seek medical help. He was diagnosed with a ruptured pectoral muscle, which required surgery to reattach the muscle and tendon to the bone. The surgeon recommended regular physiotherapy post-surgery for Tim’s rehabilitation, which he did two to three times a week for almost three months.
Tim’s physiotherapist helped him incorporate some modified work tasks into his rehab program so that he could return to work in a reduced capacity during his recovery. Tim has now recovered and is back working to his full, pre-injury work duties.