STAY FIT: Grafton tradie plumber Matthew Cooper receiving physiotherapy from principal physiotherapist Jane-Anne Burns at her clinic.
STAY FIT: Grafton tradie plumber Matthew Cooper receiving physiotherapy from principal physiotherapist Jane-Anne Burns at her clinic. Debrah Novak

Matt plumbs the depths of workplace safety

GRAFTON plumber Matt Cooper's back "cops a beating" on the job, but he's using Pilates and physiotherapy to stay healthy at work.

Mr Cooper and Grafton physiotherapist Jane-Anne Burns are urging the region's blue-collar workers to embrace the healthy work philosophies underpinning Tradies National Health Month, which ends on August 31.

According to Safe Work Australia, one in five serious workplace injuries happens to tradespeople.

Clarence Valley tradies made 135 compensation claims in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

A plumber for 18 years, Mr Cooper says he fell into the career after a little push from his father.

"I was working three casual jobs at the same time after Year 12 for six months, and my dad said, 'Stop messing around and get a real one'," the 38-year-old father-of-two said.

"He told me to go and try plumbing, so I did.

"I asked if I could work for free for one week to see what it was like.

"I worked hard and they offered me full-time."

The job has taken its toll on Mr Cooper.

"I would say the hardest part of plumbing is being cramped in awkward positions for long periods of time," he said.

"The lower back cops a beating.

"It's extremely frustrating, mentally being young and fit but at the same time your back hurts, shoulders ache and your neck feels kinked.

"I often think, 'This isn't fair - I'm young and fit'."

Physiotherapy has helped Mr Cooper overcome his pain.

"I've been going to (physio) Jane-Anne Burns, who has helped immensely, not just fixing my injuries and aches but teaching me how to identify the problem areas and strengthen them," he said. "Jane-Anne has a brilliant team of Pilates instructors who have been teaching me for the past four years. I have felt stronger at work than I did when I was younger."

Mr Cooper had some sage advice for his fellow tradies.

"Start Pilates earlier - not when you hurt yourself, but when you start your trade," he said.

- APN NEWSDESK

 



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