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#25771 - 05/19/03 07:32 AM Physical Demands of the Trade  
macwire  Offline
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 42
Philadelphia, PA, USA
As many on this board know, I've recently applied for an official apprenticeship through the IBEW. No word yet as to whether I got in, but I'll be calling this week to find out.

One thing I've been wondering about is what kind of physical abuse electricians have to endure. I'm not talking about dealing with GCs and clients [Linked Image], but the demands on the body from performing the trade.

I remember when I went down to apply, a union member who was explaining the process said electricians frequently develop back and neck problems. How true is this, and what can I do to alleviate or avoid these types of problems? How do you guys deal with the day-to-day physical demands of the trade?


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#25772 - 05/19/03 07:50 AM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
wocolt  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 110
and what can I do to alleviate or avoid these types of problems? How do you guys deal with the day-to-day physical demands of the trade?

I just had an MRI, and they told me I had a herniated disc and a bulging disc, C4,C5 and C6. from carrying ladders. etc.
How to avoid it dont get old, or get help when you need it,use proper lifting techniques, stay in shape, I dont know if there is away to avoid this type of injury except to try to follow all the rules but with any endeavor there is some amount of risk involved. It sort of goes with the territory.

#25773 - 05/19/03 11:26 AM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
Electric Eagle  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 914
Alpharetta, GA
I've screwed my back up. I blame my own stubbornness/stupidity. I worked alone for a long time and would lift or attempt to lift anything without help, 16ft fiberglass a frame ladder,etc. I once carried a 32" tv up 2 flights of stairs by myself. Stupid! Now that I have a lot more desk time my back is fine, but I'm lucky.

#25774 - 05/19/03 02:41 PM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
George Corron  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Lorton, Va USA
As I sit at my desk, my arthritic knees throbbing, my feet hurting, lower back aching, lungs wheezing, I shed a happy tear for anyone coming in the trade today. It is a different world.

Lemme 'splain it to ya Lucy.

There was nothing wrong with Asbestos, heck, we wrapped cables in it, used transite fiber pipe for duct banks that we cut with a skil saw.

PCB's - Great stuff, kept our transformers from catching fire, made GREAT cable cleaner, and nothing, but nothing cleaned your hands so good at the end of the day, and smelled nice too !!!!!!!!

We used rigid pipe, only takes one man to climb a 14' ladder with a piece of 4" rigid, it only weighs 105 pounds per stick, then you can hold it up, screw it on, and go down and get your next one.

BX cable. Each man oughta be able to carry 2 rolls up the the 17th floor, and don't get caught stopping.

Standing all day in hooks shouldn't hurt anyone, heck, you're only standing... right?

My lungs are full of asbestos, kidneys have what's called "lifetime" PCB's, knees are arthritic, feet no longer have the tendons on the bottom, ripped the muscles in my lower back so many times I have a standing prescription for pain killers and muscle relaxers. (but rarely take them)

I wouldn't trade it for nothing.

The work is still tough, no doubt, but you should see a far different trade than the one I came in. Enjoy it, use your common sense, you'll be fine.

[This message has been edited by George Corron (edited 05-19-2003).]

#25775 - 05/19/03 05:51 PM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
Gwz  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 197

Seems as though I've be almost the same route.

Back in 1949 or 1950, I remember taking off my jacket, in February, rolling up my sleeves and put my arms into the top of a variable current pole-top transformer filled with ( I guess ) PCB's to adjust the weights so as to maintain a 6.6 amp current on the series circuit street lights system on the Poco system. Put every thing back together, energize the 4160 volts system. Put an clamp around ammeter on the conductor with rubber gloves and find it was not 6.6 amps and then redo every again about three or four times.

Luckily I'm here yet with-out a great many defects.

#25776 - 05/19/03 07:52 PM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
sparky  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311
at 45 i'm simply in denial...

with one ear that isn't....

#25777 - 05/19/03 09:34 PM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
Roger  Offline
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
I have walked down corridors where asbestos doors were being cut with nothing but a sign advising asbestos cutting was taking place. This was in the mid 70's.

My hands are arthritic, (not to scale of some less fortunate) they are also scarred from being blown up, my bi yearly (atleast) back flare ups continue, and I'm like Steve in the hearing part.

Thank goodness for the protection required today.

With all said, I'm glad that I happened in to this trade. My father (a great man) got me a job with a EC friend, he bought my first tools for me, and to repay him, I went forward and never looked back.

I mean being born "rich" [Linked Image] didn't stop me. [Linked Image]

As stated earlier, be careful, stay in shape, use PPE, and most of all, use common sense.


#25778 - 05/19/03 09:51 PM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
elektrikguy  Offline
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 132
I have been in the trade for 11 years now. A young punk compared to some of the ole timers but can honestly say I like what I do for a living. Yes at times the trade will have its downs(ie. digging in damn mud) but it has more ups(watching a job come together). My advise to anyone that is entering the trade now is to remember that there is a tool for every job and that tool was made for a specific reason."To make the job easier and safer". Use common sense. Sometimes rushing to finish a job will not get the job done quicker than pacing yourself and thinking it through. Good luck.

#25779 - 05/20/03 03:13 AM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
macwire  Offline
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 42
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Dang, some of you guys have been f@$&ed up by life in the trade!!! George, you sound like you should be in the hospital on life support! [Linked Image]

The fact that you guys are happy to have been in the trade regardless says great things about both you guys and the trade itself.

But as I said, I haven't gotten in yet, and so have only a sketchy idea of the safety practices of the modern electrician. George gave some clues as to the changes over the decades, but I'm still not entirely clear on all of them-for instance, I still don't know what PCBs are, though I got the definite impression that it's not healthy to be around them.

Please continue to enlighten me.


#25780 - 05/20/03 07:51 AM Re: Physical Demands of the Trade  
wocolt  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 110
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's) Supposed to be a carcinogenic organic compound and as far as i know it has been banned from commercial use.

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