Australian tradies are traditionally tough individuals. It’s part of the job. Working with your hands for long hours, often outside, with heavy material and sharp tools – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But whether you’re a carpenter, electrician, plasterer, bricklayer, foreman, plumber, tree surgeon, tiler, welder or a pastry cook (it’s a trade, really) you can’t out-tough a workplace injury.
Trades workers, labourers, drivers and machinery operators make up 31 per cent of Australia’s workforce but contribute 58 per cent of accidents and serious injuries. That’s a big, accident-prone chunk. With the risk of accident and serious injury comes the risk of having to take time off work. And with that, unless you have income protection, comes the risk of losing weeks of wages.
August is Tradies National Health Month. So in the hope of encouraging you to, well, not get injured and look out for your workplace safety, here’s a round-up of the most common injuries plaguing Australian tradies.
Back and shoulder injuries
Most commonly caused by slips, trips and falls as well as lifting, pushing and pulling of heavy materials, a good back injury can be seriously disabling and take a lot of time to heal. In manual work, the back is like the glue holding the rest of the body together, and a sore one can lead to longer-term complications and make day-to-day work extremely difficult. Not to mention painful.
Back injury healing times:
Lumbar sprain: 4 weeks
Slipped disc: 6 weeks
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Hand and arm wounds, breakages and lacerations
The nature of working in the trades means that heavy objects and sharp tools are never far away. Add to that the ‘hands-on’ nature of manual work and you have yourself a broken bone, laceration or wound waiting to happen. The repetitive nature of some manual work also means the risk of developing tendonitis or repetitive strain injury, a bit like a temporary arthritis, is considerable. If your hands are out of action, it’s going to be tough to earn a crust.
Hand and arm wound healing times:
Serious laceration healing time: 2 weeks
Broken finger healing time: 3+ weeks
Knee and leg injuries
Uneven surfaces, falls from heights, slips, trips, ladders, steps, spending too much time on your feet – all things that can wreak havoc on your knees and legs. If your knees are shot, your hips, back and even neck can slowly feel the knock-on effect. And that’s no good.
Knee and leg injury healing times:
Broken leg (tibia): 4+ months
Ligament injuries: 6+ weeks
The result of too much heavy lifting, abdominal hernias can be a real pain in the…abdominal. A hernia can develop either over a long time or very quickly. For example, if you commit to trying to pick up something that is much too heavy for you, that’s hernia country. It’s also put-your-back-out country. We don’t recommend you pay a visit under any circumstances.
Healing time: 4-6 weeks
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