With such physically demanding jobs, how is it that construction workers can continue to graft even into their old age? How do they do it?
Well, Canadian research has recently taken a look into this. From the study, it was found that construction workers actually have a ‘physical wisdom’ that allows them to work effectively, even in their old age.
The research was conducted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario. They found that tradespeople have developed techniques to prevent placing excessive strain on their bodies. For example, when looking at bricklayers, it was found that they use techniques that limit the load placed on their joints.
Specifically, researchers analysed the performance of bricklayers who were building a concrete block wall. Ranging in different levels of experience, the results showed that the expert workers actually put less strain on their bodies in comparison to the less experienced workers. And, consequently, were able to do more work.
Supporting this was a follow-up study conducted on mason workers. Within this, sensors were used to record the workers’ movements. Alongside this, artificial intelligence was also used to identify their body patterns too.
It was found that mason workers had developed their own way to work both safely and quickly. When looking at their movements, it was noted, that these workers tended to swing blocks instead of picking them up. This was found to place much less strain on the workers’ backs, allowing them to work for longer.
Carl Haas, who led the research, described: “It’s fascinating that for about 100 years we have been studying how masons do their work and how to make work more efficient and safe.”
“But only now do we have the tools to dive in and figure out how some can keep working safely and productively when they are 65.”
“It’s as if skilled trades learn or acquire a kind of physical wisdom that they can’t even articulate.”
“I believe the techniques are learned, or discovered by workers over time.”
“It’s very different from the classic taught ergonomic techniques which are safe if you try to follow them, but make you slow and unproductive if you want to work dynamically.”
“This is like a highly developed skill, akin to those of professional sports players.”
From this research and more in-depth studies, it is hoped that these findings can be passed on in training programmes to apprentices.
Alongside staying fit, other research has also found that tradespeople are the healthiest workers too. Even in comparison to fitness professionals! Take a look at the full study here.
Despite this though, additional studies have found that whilst construction workers may stay physically fit and healthy, they are actually ageing before their time. In fact, tradespeople were found to look nine years older than they actually are! Take a look at the full report here.
So what do you think of this? Do you use any techniques like these? Let us know in the comments below.