5 Health Risks That Tradies Should Watch Out For
Aussie tradies are known for being tough. Armed with heavy and sharp tools in hand, they often work long hours to get the job done right and on time. The tedious labour and unhealthy working environment, however, can take a toll on their health, leading to the development of many illnesses that are hard to tough out.
The most common health risks of tradies include:
1. Hearing Loss
Construction workers and other tradies who are constantly exposed to excess noise levels or work with loud machinery are at high risk of hearing impairment and deafness. Those who work with ototoxic chemicals are also susceptible. Too much sound intensity and ototoxic chemicals damage the cochlear structure of the ear and affect the auditory system of the body.
1 in 5 Aussie workers are exposed to excessive noise
A new study published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Journal revealed that almost one in five Aussie workers are exposed to noise above the recommended occupational limit on their most recent working day. Four out of five of these workers were also likely to be exposed to at least one ototoxic chemical in the workplace, like heavy metals from construction, bitumen from road work, and asphyxiants from factories.
2. Musculoskeletal Disorders
Tradies who work with heavy machinery and do repetitive manual handling tasks are at high risk of injuries and disorders that affect the body’s movement. These include sprains and strains, chronic back pain, tendonitis, ligament sprain, tension neck syndrome, and degenerative disc disease. MSDs can occur all at once or wear away at a person over time.
Toughing Out Body Pain
Tradies have a tendency to try to “tough out” injuries, ignoring the pain and discomfort as part of the work until they become unbearable and affect work performance. As the treatment is delayed, the injury worsens and becomes more debilitating.
Australia has the second highest incidence of mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibres. Asbestos has been widely used in construction up until the mid-1980s before it was banned in the country in 2003. However, mesothelioma takes 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos. And while asbestos products are no longer used, there are many old homes and buildings across the country that are built from asbestos-containing materials.
Miners and Construction Workers are at High Risk
Tradies who work in the asbestos mining and milling industry are most vulnerable to mesothelioma. Those who are in trade occupations that produce a lot of dust like sawing, sanding or handling asbestos-contaminated materials are also at high risk of developing the disease. These include carpenters, power plant workers, railway workers, boiler workers and naval workers.
Stonemasons across Australia are particularly vulnerable to the deadly silicosis, a progressive and irreversible lung disease that develops from long-term exposure to silica dust. Dubbed as “the new asbestos”, silica dust is considered more dangerous than coal mine dust. It is produced when an artificial or engineered stone is cut. Once inhaled, it enters the lungs and gets deposited in the air sacs. The buildup of silica dust causes the formation of scar tissue, which makes it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen. It also affects the immune system, which increases the risk of tuberculosis and other lung infections.
More than 500,000 Aussies are Exposed to Silica Dust
Silicosis takes 10 to 15 years to develop. It usually starts as a persistent cough, followed by more symptoms, like shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of appetite and fatigue. In its acute phase, the lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe dyspnea, cough with sputum and low blood oxygen levels. According to the Cancer Council, more than 500,000 Aussies are exposed to silica dust every year with almost 6000 of those affected developing lung cancer.
5. Mental Health Issues
Depression and mental health issues are prevalent in the tough, macho world of construction. Various studies reveal that these problems are linked to the high suicide rate among male construction workers, particularly those aged 15 to 25 and that they are six times more likely to die from suicide than through a workplace accident.
The Stigma of Mental Illness and Depression
The nature of the construction job makes social support more difficult. It often involves long hours and commutes, poor job security and physically demanding work. Workers with family or financial problems have a tendency to just get drunk or keep to themselves rather than talking about their problems. The stigma around mental health problems and bullying also makes it more difficult for these tough guys to open up and talk about their feelings.
Because of the many health risks that tradies face at work, it is essential to make health a priority. Positive Lending Solutions offers personal loan for health and other medical emergencies that require rapid response. Call 1300 722 210 to get the money you need fast.