Occupational Wellness: How to Care for your Body as a Skilled Laborer

male construction worker wearing protective gearIf you're somebody who works a lot with your hands and your body, you probably have a great understanding of how valuable those assets are for your career. Your body is an essential tool in the work you do, whether as a custodian, an auto mechanic, or a layout worker, which is why it's crucial to provide the best care possible for it. Should you suffer an injury or the loss of a major bodily function, your career would be in serious jeopardy. After all, your body is not like a car in that you can just replace the tires when they go bald.

Below are some tips to bear in mind that will help you protect your body from harm and keep it strong and healthy for years to come. Let's start with the outside of your body.

Preventive care:

  • If you work in the outdoors, be sure to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen before every shift. Also, if the worksite is infested with insects, protect your skin with bug spray. You can also provide protection from sunburn and insect bites by wearing long clothing.
  • Anytime the outside of your body is vulnerable to dangerous environmental elements, you do not want to start your shift without donning the appropriate protective gear. This includes, but is not limited to, kneepads, elbow pads, gloves, shoes or boots, goggles or other protective eyewear (such as if you're a welder), and a helmet.
  • Before you head in for work, be sure to check your body for any existing injuries or wounds you may have previously incurred. If you find any cuts, deep scrapes or burns, for example, properly clean and dress those wounds to avoid infection or worsening of the injury. Also check the length of your fingernails and trim them down as necessary.


After-shift care:

  • As soon as your workday comes to an end, head to a sink and wash your hands with a mild cleanser. Avoid using harsh or concentrated soaps or chemicals on a regular basis because such products can be harmful to your skin. The same goes for your face, your limbs, and any other parts of your body that may have taken a beating during your shift.
  • Keep bottles of moisturizer available in multiple locations, such as your car, at home, and in the janitor closet. Applying a moisturizer to your skin on a daily basis will help provide longevity your body needs to perform the physical work that you do.
  • In your line of work, you probably spend a lot of time on your feet. At the end of a long day, you would do yourself a great favor by soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and Epsom salts (two tablespoons per gallon).


Now let's move on to care tips for the inside of your body.



Preventive care:

  • Before each shift, stretch the parts of your body you use the most. Committing yourself to regular exercise outside of work will also help you build muscle and remain limber each day on the job.
  • Wear a respiratory mask if you work around chemicals or tiny airborne particles, and be sure the area is very well ventilated. Also, to protect your eardrums, always wear protection over your ears in work environments that are exceptionally noisy, such as an assembly line or a steel factory.
  • Examine your work conditions on a regular basis to ensure you're practicing proper ergonomics and that every piece of equipment you use in your job is functioning properly. And anytime you begin performing a new type of labor, especially involving lifting of heavy objects or maneuvering at odd angles, identify and practice the proper physical techniques in order to avoid any strains or long-term injuries.


After-shift care:

  • After a long day using your body, treat yourself to a nice long soak in the bath or in a hot tub to help soothe any achy muscles. Elevating your feet also helps to restore proper circulation.
  • Consider setting up regular appointments with a massage therapist. Not only would it help soothe any aching muscles or joints, you would also have access to professional advice on the current condition of your body, which would help in case you need to make any alterations to how you perform your job.
  • If you've suffered any type of injury during the shift, even one that is minor, do not put off providing treatment to that injury. As soon as you can, apply ice, take anti-inflammatory medication, rub sports cream, and most importantly, rest your body.

You likely practice many of these measures already, but it's always good to be reminded of the importance of each tip. Whatever you do, don't delay the necessary care your body needs to remain employable.

What else do you incorporate into your body-care routine? Is it habit or do you need to remind yourself occasionally to provide that care?

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

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