Working in construction is physically demanding and, when temperatures are extreme and hours are long, can be grueling. To minimize physical wear and tear and to guard against unnecessary pain and injuries, it’s important to be proactive about your health and wellbeing. One bad injury not only can wreak havoc on your body, it can also leave you out of work for weeks or even months. Here are some tips to help you avoid job-related aches, pains, and injuries.
Stand Up Straight
Remember your mother telling you to stand up straight? She had a point. Poor posture doesn’t just “look” bad – it can cause pain and injury to your back, neck, hands, wrists, and joints. It can also cause headaches and fatigue, as well as decreased lung capacity. Maintaining good posture may take practice at first, but the benefits are worth it. Good posture keeps your bones and joints aligned, which in turn helps your muscles work more efficiently, which means less fatigue and fewer headaches.
Lift the Right Way
Who needs help bending and lifting properly? Isn’t it just common sense? You may think so, and perhaps it should be, but many injuries – sometimes serious – are caused by improper bending and lifting. While it may be tempting or may seem easier to bend from the waist when lifting those stacks of heavy cement mix, one wrong move can put you out of commission for weeks. So, take the time to do it right:
Always stand with your feet at least shoulder width apart before you bend. Do not bend from your waist; instead, squat so that you are using your hips and knees, not your back. Maintain proper posture when doing so, and never, ever twist from the back. Slowly lift the load and stand using only your hips and knees. Keep the load close to your body (holding it further away will strain your back) and set it down using the same bending technique. Also, avoid “jerky” motions.
On the Move
Working in one position can be taxing to both the body and the mind. It may not seem that bad, but it can have a negative impact on your health down the line. Staying in the same position can weaken the brain and increases the risk of getting cancer and diabetes. To prevent this, try moving around at least once every hour on days when you have a schedule that requires you to stay in the same spot. You will be much happier that you did!
Get a Grip
Tools are often used to help make your job easier, but they can lead to injuries if not used properly. It is important to have a proper grip, so you are able to have fully functioning wrists and hands. Improper grips can lead to disorders like tendinitis. The best grip to use for tools, handsaws and planes is a three fingered grip. This grip allows you to have to more control and puts less stress on your hand as it prevents you from gripping anything too tightly.
Dress for the Occasion
Many of the materials used on the jobsite have rough edges that can be damaging to the hands, skin, and nerves. Constantly pressing your hand against things like wood and sharp edges can cause numbness and tingling. Doing this repetitively will cause irreversible damage. To help prevent this, make sure you are dressed appropriately to help protect yourself from injuries that can be easily prevented. Make sure you always wear a hard hat, work boots to help protect your feet from stepping on sharp materials, and properly fitted gloves to help protect the skin on your hands. While these items may be annoying to wear, it is always best to put your safety first
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