Top 10 Tips for Maintaining Your Well-Being in Construction + Checklist
It's common knowledge that the hard labor and long hours that come with working in construction take a toll on your overall physical well-being. After all, the construction industry saw the 6th most non-fatal workplace injuries in the United States of America in 2020, which accounts for almost 75,000 injuries. And that doesn't come as a surprise. Working in construction is very physically demanding and a lot of dangerous hazards are definitely present on the job site.
For both short-term and long-term injury prevention, knowing how to maintain your well-being in the construction industry is crucial. It's true that working in construction is physically demanding, but through the execution of best practices and the creation of healthy habits, you'll be more prepared than ever to face any and all challenges on the job site.
So in order to help educate and remind construction workers that their physical well-being is the most important component of the job, we've created a list of the top 10 tips for maintaining your well-being in construction. You can also find a downloadable checklist that you can feel free to print out and put in your lunch room as a reminder for your team.
Table of Contents
- Tip #1: Get a Good Night's Sleep
- Tip #2: Maintain a Healthy Diet
- Tip #3: Stay Hydrated
- Tip #4: Prioritize General Hygiene
- Tip #5: Regularly Schedule Massages
- Tip #6: Try to Stretch & Foam Roll Daily
- Tip #7: Wear Your PPE
- Tip #8: Follow Standard Safety Practices
- Tip #9: Keep Educating Yourself
- Tip #10: Keep a Checklist
- Final Thoughts & Checklist
Tip #1: Get a Good Night's Sleep
The construction industry is synonymous with very early mornings and very long hours. And although this tip may be hard to follow, it still remains crucial to a construction worker's well-being.
The first way to improve your well-being in construction is to prioritize getting a full night's sleep. Without the proper rest for your specific demographic, all of these other tips below aren't going to be much help since proper sleep is the foundation of good health.
Not getting the proper amount of sleep can negatively affect your well-being in several ways. First, on the more extreme end, your body can feel the drawbacks of a lack of proper sleep through a higher risk of immunodeficiency, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and hormone imbalances. But a lack of proper sleep can also negatively affect your well-being in terms of your cognitive functions.
While sleep deprived, your cognitive function can be impaired, and your reaction times are slower. This is something that can obviously put yourself and others around you at risk of accidents on the job site, especially when operating machinery, using powerful tools, and transporting heavy materials.
In order to prevent this, do research about how much sleep someone of your age, sex, weight, and other factors should get every night, and get a good night's sleep. Here's a resource to start that research.
Tip #2: Maintain a Healthy Diet
It may be cliche to say that construction workers don't have the best diets, but there may be some truth to it. Since they work long hours and are often pretty far away from home, construction workers often eat fast, not-so-healthy foods on a regular basis. After all, it's much easier to grab something from your favorite food chain when you're expected to be on the go all the time and are too tired to pack your own lunch.
Fast food for lunch and salty-sugary treats for a snack are common sights on a construction project. And although they may taste good and provide you with temporary energy, these types of convenience foods and snacks are usually full of fat, excess sugar and carbs, and unnatural sweeteners. Eating these types of foods on a regular or daily basis can lead to several health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Eating too heavy of a lunch can also make you more fatigued and slow moving.
To help mitigate these risks and to lead an overall healthier lifestyle, do some research on ways that construction workers can maintain a healthy diet. If you're really serious, even consider seeing a nutritionist or dietician that can provide advice on healthy eating.
Tip #3: Stay Hydrated
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but the next tip for maintaining your well-being in construction is to stay hydrated. What you might not know is that there are actually several aspects of why staying hydrated is essential.
First, when you're working hard on the job site, chances are that you're going to be sweating, especially in the summer. Sweating is your body is trying to cool itself down to a more suitable temperature. But when you sweat, your body actually loses a lot of fluid. So by staying hydrated, you allow your body to properly cool itself while also keeping the essential amount of fluids circulating in your body. After all, it's not very good for your well-being to pass out from dehydration.
Next, our bodies need the minerals and vitamins in water to function properly. Staying hydrated helps boost your metabolism, reduces daytime fatigue and headaches, and can even improve memory and concentration.
Tip #4: Prioritize General Hygiene
On the job site, you're inevitably going to accumulate dirt, dust, and other unclean materials on your physical body. So in order to help lower the risk of diseases or illnesses caused by bacteria, and reduce the risk of infection in cuts and scrapes, prioritizing your general hygiene is necessary.
From washing your face in the morning and showering regularly to wearing a clean work shirt every day, general hygiene includes everything being clean. Being able to access clean drinking water, sanitary washrooms, hand sanitizer or a handwashing station is also crucial to upkeeping your general hygiene on the job.
Tip #5: Regularly Schedule Massages
Being part of this industry is very physically demanding. The wear and tear on a construction worker's body can't just be cured with good sleep, hydration, and healthy eating. Your hard-working, roughed-up body needs physical maintenance.
This is exactly why you should try to visit a massage therapist as often as practically possible. Getting a massage can help you sleep better, decrease your anxiety, improve your posture, improve your overall mood, and most importantly, help reduce chronic pain.
Tip #6: Try to Strech and Foam Roll Daily
Building off of the last tip, you can also help physically maintain your body through self-exercises. Specifically, stretching and foam rolling are great ways to stay loose and prevent injuries.
Stretching for as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of onsite injury, keep your body flexible, help calm your mind, and is great for your heart health. And the same goes for foam rolling. By using a foam roller for even 10 minutes on a regular basis, you're essentially self-massaging and helping to alleviate any tight or knotted muscles.
If you’re looking for stretching ideas, we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of 10 easy stretches that you can do to help keep your muscles performing at their best. If you can't commit to stretching and foam rolling every day, start with every other day or 3 times per week.
Tip #7: Wear Your PPE
We know you've heard this a million times, but here it is again: Wear your PPE.
It’s important that you wear the right clothes and protective gear for your job. We all know the basic types of PPE that everyone should be wearing, like gloves, hardhats, goggles, and steel-toes, but sometimes you can go above and beyond in order to maintain your well-being. For example, if you’re lifting heavy objects, you should use a back brace to prevent damage to your body. Or, if you are working in an area with slippery surfaces, you should wear nonskid, rubber footwear. We would even consider sunscreen PPE to keep you safe from the dangers that too much time in the sun can bring.
The point is that, in order to maintain your well-being, you need to stay properly protected.
Tip #8: Follow Standard Safety Practices
Again, like the last tip, we know you've probably heard this before. But we'll say it again in order to highlight its importance.
Following standard safety practices and following safety guidelines is one of the best ways to prevent injuries and maintain your well-being on the job site. This might seem obvious or even like second nature, but you should always give your job site and your actions an in-depth look in terms of their safety in order to avoid injuries. Whether that's adhering to the rules of the site, double checking equipment for malfunctions, or making sure equipment is tied down at the end of the day, there's no such thing as being too safe.
For example, always be aware of potentially harmful things like; ladder and stairs climbing hazards, injuries due to getting in and out of equipment, injuries due to loading or unloading equipment, crowded work area hazards, and more.
Tip #9: Keep Educating Yourself on Well-Being Tips
As we've seen throughout construction history, safety practices and well-being maintenance will continue to change. Staying up-to-date on well-being tips for construction workers is important to maintaining and even improving your well-being. Education and learning never stop.
You don't have to update your safety and well-being knowledge on a daily basis, but it could help to look for blogs like this one every once and a while.
Tip #10: Keep a Checklist
Having checklists to refer back to always helps when it comes to remembering things. So in order to help you remember these well-being tips, we've created a downloadable PDF checklist for your convenience. Feel free to print it off, save it to your computer, or even hang it in the lunch room of your next project.
Final Thoughts & Checklist
Staying safe and healthy should be your top priority on the job site. And in order to help prevent long-term physical distress to your body even after you're done with your career in construction, it's important to practice well-being maintenance now. In the future, you'll be glad you did!