News & Views

22nd August 2019

Tradies are Getting Healthier, but Blokey Culture Still Exists

Seven out of 10 tradies consider themselves fit and try to eat healthily - challenging the pie eating and chocolate milk drinking stereotype - but a persistent blokey culture is leading to serious injury among Aussie tradies.

Research commissioned by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) in June this year showed that tradies were more likely to look after their tools and work vehicles than their own bodies, with almost one third not following safe lifting guidelines and less than one quarter stretching before they start work, even though they know it would be helpful.

The majority of tradies said that being sore was just normal for the work they do. APA National President Phil Calvert said “Tradies are at particular risk of a range of injuries as a result of the intensity and repetitive nature of their work, so it’s important that they put some preventive health measures in place and get help before little niggles turn into more chronic issues.”

One of these measures is the simple act of stretching before the work day starts. “Our research shows that of those tradies who exercise or play sport regularly, more than half will spend a few minutes stretching and warming up because they know this helps reduce injuries. Yet when it comes to starting work for the day, in many respects another type of sport, less than a quarter will warm up, even though they know it could prevent stiffness and soreness at the end of the day.”

The research highlighted that tradies would be more likely to stretch if they thought their bosses would approve of it, highlighting an opportunity for trade employers to take a proactive position and encourage their employees to spend a few minutes each day getting their bodies warmed up for the physical work ahead. This not only helps reduce injury risk and lost time, but improves on the job productivity, making it a win-win for both parties.  

The survey also asked tradies about their willingness to discuss physical or mental health concerns with their co-workers and bosses. One quarter felt comfortable talking about a mental health issue affecting their work, while just over half were open to discussing physical health concerns. Interestingly, almost three quarters said they wouldn’t think any less of their workmates for taking time off for mental health concerns, so it appears that tradies have tougher expectations of themselves than their co-workers.

Tradies National Health Month is an annual initiative of the Australian Physiotherapy Association that raises awareness about the health and injury risks associated with physically demanding trade work and urges tradies and their employers to make small changes in their work practices to reduce their risk of injury and stay healthy and well on the job.

Go to www.chose.physio/fortradies and get tips on how to look after your most important tool - your body.