How many times have each of us said that? Then, said to ourselves…”oh well…I will push through this and ignore the pain.” I know I did. Too many times.
It’s amazing what we will do for our jobs without thinking of the consequences.
Where am I going with this? Well, how many of us have heard of “Repetitive Motion” Injuries? Probably all of us. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow and many others are commonplace in today’s vocabulary. But, have any of us thought about how the Hydrovac Profession would, or could, cause us pain? I know I didn’t.
Of course we have common injuries like debris in the eye, sore back from lifting remote hose, slips or trips that can cause a muscle pull or even a broken bone. But what about the motion of running that wand up and down and side to side all day long…day after day? Well, the results are in and I, unfortunately, am living with the effects. After talking with many other Operators, I am not alone in this!
With the Hydrovac Industry still in its infancy compared to many other traditional professions, we are only now starting to see the effects the job is having on our bodies. As we continue to progress, more information will become available and most certainly, more injuries will be accredited to what we do.
The biggest issues seem to be in the shoulders and neck. Some common issues are neck injuries or strains from us wearing the weight of our hardhats/masks/muffs combo and always looking down the hole. As well, shoulder issues from the repetitive motion of running the wand under pressure.
I have now been through a battery of tests and examinations and my diagnosis is as follows: Left shoulder has a separated Labrum, Arthritis, Tendonitis and Bursitis. My Right shoulder has all the same with addition of 1 torn ligament and a frayed tendon. I will, at some point, require major surgery on both shoulders. The simple way to explain it is Rotator Cuff Surgery….but it is a lot more involved in that because of the separated Labrum part of the injury.
The purpose of this article is to bring attention to something many of us fail to do. TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES!
I know I have rolled my eyes at the stretches we sometimes have to do at the morning Toolbox Meeting. I just want to get to work! Slow down folks, they may be on to something here.
When I played sports in my youth we always stretched well before practices and games. As I aged, I played beer league hockey and slow pitch. I stretched to loosen up before the game. Why should it be any different for work? We have a physically demanding job and it puts strain on our bodies no different than playing sports does! Are we “tougher” at work? Is not socially acceptable? Do we think it looks uncool to prepare for our day? Those may be the very reasons why I didn’t approach my work
day the same way I approached my days playing sports. BIG mistake!
The attached links are to give you some ideas on how to PREVENT shoulder pain caused by over-excursion or repetitive motion during your workday. They are in NO WAY a suggestion of treatment for existing pain. If you are already experiencing pain I strongly suggest you seek medical attention before the damage becomes permanent. Something I wish I had done sooner.
Our Industry is by no means mainstream or glamorous. Nobody is putting a spotlight on us or making movies about what we do! The chances of a Medical
Student somewhere writing a Thesis on “The Long-term Effects of the Hydrovac Industry on the Human Body” are somewhere between slim and none. It is up to us to research ways to take care of ourselves based on the work we do. Find ways to prevent injuries that are caused by our motions and to educate each other as we learn!
Learning how to prevent is much easier than learning how to repair.
Until next time…stay in The Muck!