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Top 6 tips to keep healthy as a tradie

Wednesday 2 August 2017

A male tradesperson stands on a building site, arms crossed, smiling. >
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The hard work tradies put in can take a toll on body and mind - make sure you're looking after yourself so you can do your job and enjoy your life.

There are over half a million tradespeople in Queensland, working in industries like construction, agriculture, transport and engineering. Keeping tradies in top shape ensures that they can do their job as well as possible and return home healthy and happy.

If you’re a tradie, or you know one, below are some reminders of the things you can do to keep yourself in good nick.

1. Don’t skip exercise

Because the work can be physical, many tradespeople get some incidental exercise each day as part of their job. But while you might feel strong or fit because of your work, it’s important to think about the types of exercise you’re not getting during the day and activities that might benefit your body.

Stretching exercises, like yoga, can help relieve tension, improve flexibility and maintain range of motion, while cardio burns excess kilojoules and strengthens your heart and lungs. Improving your core strength can help reduce your risk of pain and injury at work. Take some time every day before or after work, or at a lunch time, to focus on a bit of bodily maintenance.

2. Eat for energy and nutrition

Eating out for lunch or having a takeaway can be a quick fix for hunger, but the options at the local corner store or takeaway joint aren’t always the healthiest. Food and drinks like burgers, chips, sausage rolls and soft drinks can contain a lot of kilojoules (energy) but aren’t very nutritious. This means that your body doesn’t get a lot of the nutrients it needs from these foods, but does get a lot of extra energy that if not used, will be stored as fat.

Help your body get the nutrients it needs by packing tasty and nutritious food and drink in your esky - like a healthy sandwich and an apple or banana. If you visit the local takeaway or fast food joint, look out for the ‘kilojoules on the menu’ and select items that are lower in kilojoules (energy). Also, remember to hydrate on water rather than opting for a soft drink. A good tip is to freeze your water overnight, and then use it to keep your food cool and you hydrated during the day.

3. Monitor your mental health

According to Mates in Construction, 190 Australian construction industry workers die by suicide each year. It might not be traditional for tradies to open up about their emotions, but statistics like this show how important it is to be savvy about mental health.

Looking after your mental health can play a big part in making sure you’re able to do your job well and enjoy life outside of work. Learn how to take care of your mental health by managing stress, speaking up if you’re finding things difficult and noticing when others might need a chat or a helping hand.

Find more information about the signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression and suicide and where to get help from beyondblue.

A close-up of two men shaking hands, wearing work gloves, with two tradespeople standing in the background.

4. Be sun safe

We all know that getting too much sun on our skin can be a bad thing, leading to possible sunburn, dehydration and skin cancer. Because tradies often spend a large proportion of their working day outside, they can receive 5 to 10 times more UVR exposure each year than indoor workers. So it’s really important to practice sun safe behaviours every day.

Use the five sun safe behaviours, slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, to keep your skin protected, and download the Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app to get a daily update on the UV Index and required sun protection times in your area.

5. Think twice about alcohol and drugs

While enjoying a drink at the end of the workday might be a tradition among your work crew, it’s important to think carefully before consuming alcohol or drugs.  

Alcohol and drugs can impede your decision making skills and ability to use your body properly. This means the effects of either could impact how well you can do your job, and make you dangerous to yourself and others when you’re at work. The use of alcohol and drugs can also impact your overall wellbeing, relationships and activities outside of work.

Learn more about drugs and alcohol, how they could affect your performance at work and your overall health through tools like the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Tradie Trainer.

6. Know your rights and responsibilities

In Australia, you have the right to expect your workplace to be as safe as possible, and to be trained to safely do your job and use equipment. You also have responsibilities in ensuring that you work in a way that is safe for you and others.

You can read more about workers’ rights and responsibilities on the WorkCover Queensland website.

More information

For more information and services that support tradies, visit the links below.

Tradies National Health Week

Healthier. Happier. Workplaces

HALT Brekky

Mates in Construction

Last updated: 21 August 2017