STAY FIT: Brett Judge, from Dancer’s Car Care, and Andy Irvine, from Physio Plus Lismore.
STAY FIT: Brett Judge, from Dancer’s Car Care, and Andy Irvine, from Physio Plus Lismore. Graham Broadhead

Mechanic urges fellow tradies not to put up with the pain

ACHES and pains are a fact of life for Ballina mechanic Brett Judge.

Mr Judge and his physiotherapist Andrew Irvine are urging the region's blue collar workers to embrace the healthy work philosophies underpinning Tradies National Health Month, which ends today.

According to Safe Work Australia, one in five serious workplace injuries happen to tradespeople.

Northern Rivers tradies made 370 compensation claims in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

A mechanic for 18 years, Mr Judge spends inordinate amounts of time bent over engines, and his body is starting to pay the price.

"I enjoy my work and the people I work with, so mentally I feel good," the 34-year-old father of two said.

"I do get the odd injury, though, and often feel a bit stiff and achy at the end of the day.

"For the most part, I can manage these, but when I have difficulty, I quickly see my physio to get some help."

While he has avoided major injuries, aches and pains can be a source of irritation for Mr Judge.

"I usually have repetitive strain-type injuries associated with the type of work I do," he said.

"The most significant was a shoulder strain that I couldn't get rid of myself.

"My shoulder just wasn't getting better at all by itself. In fact, it was getting worse.

"The physio diagnosed what was wrong, explained what we had to do to fix it, and with treatment and my exercises, it started getting better quickly."

Mr Judge urged his fellow tradies to do their best to keep in good health.

"If you've got an injury or niggle, don't put up with it," he said.

Stay healthy

ANDREW Irvine has some simple pointers for tradespeople to stay healthy on the job.

Mr Irvine, a Lismore and Ballina physiotherapist with three years of private practice experience, said shoulder and lower back injuries were common among his tradie patients.

"These are usually from accumulative stress or load rather than a single traumatic event, and both are most commonly a result of poor lifting techniques or personal ergonomics," Mr Irvine said.

"Long-term pain and stress can change any- body's quality of life," he said.

"They (tradies) should seek help from a physiotherapist or GP to address their lower back pain and modify their tasks to remove the cause of this injury."

Good workplace means good staff

FAMILY-friendly workplaces are helping almost 40% of employers retain good staff.

Research shows 37% of bosses believe work-life balance beats pay rises and training when keeping employees happy.

Workplace relations advisory specialist Employsure's survey of 461 small to medium Australian businesses also 21% of employers think pay rises will retain staff, , 16% say training, just 2% say social events will keep employees happy, and only 1% say occupational health and safety.

Employsure managing director Edward Mallett said keeping staff happy was great for morale and a company's bottom line.

"Costs can add up with recruitment advertising, and there's so much time invested to hire and train new employees," Mr Mallett said.