Should We Be Treating Construction Workers Similar To Athletes?

Construction is considered as one of the most ‘labour’ intensive industries in the world. You only have to look at the statistics from the UK Health and Safety Executive that construction workers are more at risk of suffering from work related musculoskeletel disorders/injuries (bad backs, muscle sprains etc…) due to the physical nature of the work.

This a big problem on many levels from lost productivity to the organisation right down to the pain (often chronic), inconvenience and loss of earnings experienced by the individual and their families.

There are many things we can do and are already doing to prevent our workers suffering. Only recently I saw a video of a robot that can lay bricks which automatically removes the risk of lifting bricks by a human being. In my opinion this is only the start of what might be possible in the construction industry with 3D printing and artificial intelligence etc…

Through innovation we know we can do more as an industry to design out unnecessary activities that put our workforce at risk, but we have to also be realistic that innovation takes time and until robots do everything a human being has to be involved in the manual construction of our society.

I’d like to offer two simple activities if introduced today on construction sites around the world could reduce the number of physical injuries and incidents.

Prepared For Work

It is well known and advised on construction sites that being ‘dry and warm’ is good practice on construction sites, not only for mental well-being and morale but also for physical health. In my experience this being ‘dry and warm’ has only extended to wearing the correct clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Like a professional sports person about to compete in a race I’d like to see employers taking the workforce through a ‘warm-up’ activity. The sports industry know the value in warming up (and down) to ensure their muscles are prepared for the activity ahead. Why should construction be any different? A typical day of a construction worker often involves weight-lifting and gymnastics for the duration of an iron man event.

If you’re wondering what the warm up might look like, here’s an example…..

Maintaining Physical Condition

The second activity I believe would reduce the number of physical injuries and incidents to construction workers are some kind of massage.

The physical benefits of massage are well written about. Professional sports people understand the benefits of massage to ensure their bodies are kept in the best condition especially during breaks in there training.

Physical touch is very powerful when it comes to mental well-being. It automatically fills you with a sense of value and gratitude that someone is taking the time to connect with you.

Massages at work are not a new thing, just maybe new to the construction industry.

There are many benefits of keeping your workforce in the best physical condition and better prepared for the physical demands of the construction industry.

Here’s 10 benefits that might make you want to introduce massages into your organisation:

Until innovation removes the inherent risks to humans in the construction industry it is our responsibility to do what we can to reduce suffering for all involved.

Above all we are talking about the consequence of injuries and incidents but a further benefit is that employees are also more motivated and engaged if they feel that their employer cares about their health and provides services to encourage and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

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