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Every job comes with its own set of unique health hazards, but working in construction can particularly take its toll on both mental and physical wellbeing. To help you keep yourself in top condition, Kelly Friel from industrial tool supplier Zoro shares her advice on how construction workers can maintain their health.
Construction careers are loved by many — they’re varied, they’re reliable and flexible. But no job comes without its downsides. With the long hours, heavy lifting, and higher risk of workplace accidents, it’s no surprise that construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK. Plus, some health ailments, such as back pain and mental burnout, are more common amongst construction workers in comparison to the wider population.
So how can you best prepare your body and mind?
“There are so many safety concerns for construction workers to consider, it can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming,” says Kelly. “But ensuring that you wear the appropriate PPE at the right time is vital for protecting your health.
A hard hat can both protect you from falling objects and insulate your head from electric shocks, so it’s important to wear one at all times. Make sure that the hat fits securely enough so it won’t fall off, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable to wear all day.
Construction sites can be huge, so people can be easily missed. Always wear high visibility clothing, such as vests, jackets, trousers, and shirts, so you’re easy to spot at all times. Construction workers regularly use heavy tools and materials, so having a sturdy pair of slip-resistant, steel-toed boots is vital for foot health. Wear safety goggles or glasses whenever you are on the site, disinfect them often, and replace them as soon as they become damaged.
And when working outside, it’s important to protect yourself from the elements. Use a good quality SPF when the sun is out (even in the winter months), that protects against both UVA and UVB. And make sure to stock up on seasonal clothing too, such as waterproofs and insulative layers.”
“Construction workers aren’t just at higher risk of suffering from physical injuries, research has found that mental health issues are common in the industry too. The shocking statistics demonstrate just how bad the construction industry’s mental health crisis is – in 2019, construction workers were three times more likely to take their own lives than employees in any other field. If you’re a construction worker experiencing poor mental health, know that you’re not alone.
Opening up and sharing your feelings can do wonders for your wellbeing. This can be with anyone you feel comfortable with, from your partner to your co-worker. You should also pay a visit to your GP to discuss your concerns with them and work together to find the right treatment plan for you.
One thing that could really help construction workers is some extra time off. Burnout has been found to impact construction workers more than employees in any other industry. Be sure to make the most of your annual leave and encourage your co-workers to do the same.”
“Back issues are incredibly common amongst construction workers, and the pain can be pretty serious. In fact, 30% of construction workers had such a painful back or spine injury that they were forced to take time off.
Before starting work, take five or ten minutes to give your muscles a good stretch to release any tension. You should also invest in a quality back support belt. If you can, opt for one with a mesh panel for ventilation to stop you from overheating. And try to take regular breaks to give your back muscles a much-deserved rest.”