'You think you're invincible': how the job is taking a toll on tradies
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'You think you're invincible': how the job is taking a toll on tradies

Canberra carpenter Adam Potts is the first to admit taking care of his body was not his top priority as a young builder.

But at 35 and after 15 years as a tradie, the job is starting to take its toll.

Carpenter Adam Potts

Carpenter Adam Potts Credit:Elesa Kurtz

"It's a young bloke thing, you think you're invincible," Mr Potts said.

"Then it creeps up and gets you all of a sudden.

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"For me it was ten years before it really started to be felt."

He has had neck, shoulder and elbow pain for years which had previously forced him to take time off work.

Research from the Australian Physiotherapy Association shows Australian tradies are almost twice as likely to take good care of their tools than their bodies despite having one of the highest injury rates of any occupation.

It found 79 per cent of tradies report taking good care of their tools compared to just 47 percent who took good care of their bodies.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of tradies said they had been injured in their current job and half of these said they expected to be injured again.

And almost a quarter of the tradies surveyed said they would think a work mate was "a wuss" if they complained about an injury with 55 per cent saying aches and pains were just a normal part of the job.

Association president Phil Calvert said tradies were either not seeking treatment or delaying it until their injury became much bigger and complex.

He said a proper warm up before work including appropriate stretching and using correct lifting techniques could help prevent injuries.

“Too many tradies are living with the attitude that injuries come part and parcel with the job, but that just
doesn’t have to be the case,” he said.

The research found work injuries did not was also affecting their mental health with 20 per cent of tradies surveyed reporting a mental health issue as a result of a work injury.

After many years Mr Potts found the right treatment and exercise regime to help him manage his injuries and get on with work.

He's also learn the importance of stretching and watching what he eats and how much he drinks.

Mr Potts said the culture among younger tradies was beginning to change, who are more likely to take care of their health.

"The couple of young apprentices I've got at the moment are way more understanding and in touch with their bodies' abilities than the group I was around when I was doing my apprenticeship," he said.

"My advice is don't work 80 hours every week, that's no good physically and mentally.

"I probably worked too much to start with which has condensed injuries."

    Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times with a special focus on health issues