I had an inquiry today from someone looking for input (for an upcoming Article) about electrical work's toll on the body. I offered to post the question here because the input and advice gathered could serve to help others in, or just getting started in the Industry/Trade.
Can you help by identifying some of the painful motions/activities/jobs that you all perform (or have performed) in your day-to-day electrical work? An area of focus for the Article will be to examine the ways contractors, VDV installers, and maintenance professionals can protect themselves and cope with these problems.
The most problem prone areas are the back, knees and repetitive motion injuries to the wrists and hands.
We usually have back problems because of improper lifting or pulling. Knee problems from crawling. Repetitive motion injuries from using pliers, cutters, screwdrivers and instaling wire nuts. VDV people also face problems from using punch down tools.
I second what hbiss just said. Especially I want to emphasize that young electricians should stay off their knees as much as possible, especially on hard surfaces like concrete. Balancing the full weight of your body on open floor joists while in a crawlspace will also take its toll. If yu must bear weight on your knees, use knee pads. There's also nothing wrong with making up splices or installing receptacles while sitting on a stool or spackle bucket. The reason I say "young" electricians is that when you're young you never envision future problems. Once you're older you'll wish you had done things differently.
Last year we did work for 2 different electricians that were disabled from falls. One was an outdoor utility person the other was an indoor comercial. Both the falls were said to be under 6'. One is paralized waist down. The other had some back surgeries and has phyiscal and mental problems now.
Lower back problems seem to haunt my company. In 03' I had two blown disc and one torn. The spine surgeon said I had the back of a 60 year old man... not good when you're 35. I went under the knife and came out with good results. That meaning I was able to return to work but have never regained entire strength nor feeling in my left leg.
My workers have been plagued with the same problems but none have had to have surgery. But flair ups happen all the time on the job and their time will come too.
And you may ask what was my doctors advice.. quit bending over and dont pick up anything heavy. Easier said than done in this trade.
I'd agree with Hal personally. Electrical work as it is, is a very manual occupation, this can open up all sorts of problems with the body. I have a mate who is an Electrician who is going to get the Varicose veins removed from his legs, caused by standing up at panels, this is the bulk of his work. Good points about the effects of using screwdrivers on the wrists, a lot of people would not realise just how much energy it takes to use a screwdriver, especially where you have to drive a screw with a long fine thread (Switch screws come to mind). From the viewpoint of a Lineman, the most concerning thing for us is Melanoma from working out in the sun. Not proven, but EMF damage to the body is a constant worry working around any sort of voltage. Most of the problems I've had as an Electrician is damage and inflammation of my knees from working up in roof spaces. Or as I hate to admit, banging my head on bits of timber up in the said roof space.