Overcoming Heights and Other Hurdles in a Physically-Demanding Work Environment

There are many jobs in New Zealand that can be considered physically demanding, including those in construction and mining. Workers in these kinds of jobs are also always in demand. Coupled with great pay packages and benefits, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of people who are interested in these industries.

However, these manual labour jobs also expose you to danger. In particular, you can suffer work-related injuries and diseases that can hamper your capability to do your job.

The good news is that you can prepare yourself well in order to minimise and overcome various risks at any physically-demanding work environment. Here are just a few tips:

Get Some Training

The most important thing you have to do before taking on any manual labour job is to get proper training. According to existing New Zealand laws, organisations must provide training for their employees so that they can work safely and efficiently. However, you can also opt to take courses voluntarily to increase your chances of employment.

That said, there are a variety of training courses you can take. The choice will depend on what job you want, although you can certainly take all of them if you have the means. Some of the most important ones include working at heights training, particularly if you want to work in construction.

Other training courses you or your employer should take a look at include:

  • Asbestos training
  • MEWP training
  • Confined space training
  • Health and safety training

Learning about first aid is also valuable, no matter the kind of work you do now or want to do in the future.

Wear PPE Properly

Wearing personal protective equipment or PPE is a must for any manual labour job. However, it’s lamentable that some people who work in risky and physically-demanding environments don’t know how to wear their PPE properly.

Wearing PPE won’t do you any good if you aren’t wearing it right. Make sure that the fit is snug, not tight, and that all the clasps and belts are securely fastened. You should also make sure that you’re always wearing what is appropriate for the job. Depending on what you’re doing, you may end up needing all of the following:

  • Head protection
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Masks or respirators
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety shoes

For those working at-height and other unique situations, you’re also going to need specialised PPE such as harnesses. Again, these should be worn properly or else they won’t be able to work as intended.

Keep Yourself Healthy

Working a manual labour job in a physically demanding environment means only one thing: your body is your capital. If you get sick or injured, you may not be able to work and earn a living.

In short, you need to take care of your body. Make sure to exercise so that you’re physically capable of performing repetitive motions and other tasks related to your job. Being in peak physical health can also influence your mental state, making you more confident and thus more efficient.

It’s also important, of course, to eat the right foods. You need to keep your energy up, so you shouldn’t be skipping meals as well. As is always mentioned by doctors and health professionals, focus on consuming complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Moreover, fruits and vegetables provide much-needed fibre and a host of other nutrients.

When it comes to hydration, nothing beats water. It doesn’t come with extra calories and quenches your thirst effectively—unlike other beverages that can make you thirstier or even lose more fluids.

Work Right

In any work environment, there’s a right way to do things. This is multiplied ten-fold when you’re in a physically-demanding job. For example, there is a proper technique for lifting things so as not to strain or injure your back.

Some jobs performed at height also have recommended steps for efficiency and safety. Meanwhile, other tasks should be performed in tandem or even in groups. Aside from jobs being easier to do with more hands on deck, having someone else beside working with you means there’s someone to provide primary aid in case of emergencies.

Know Your Rights

Last but certainly not least, one of the best ways to overcome hurdles in any work environment, physically demanding or otherwise, is to know your rights. How much should you be paid? What are your benefits? What do you and your company do when there’s an accident while on the job?

Knowing these details and more can help you feel safer. This can then translate to feeling more confident when doing your job and overcoming any hesitation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be less careful. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that when you have peace of mind at work, you’re more at ease and effective.

What’s even better is that when you know your rights, you can also approach your leaders if there are any gaps to be filled. This means creating safer work environments that’s conducive for growth.



When you’re at work, you should be able to focus to be effective. Some hurdles can be distracting, however, and can even prevent you from achieving this. With this article, we hope that you’re able to overcome these barriers and maintain or even improve your productivity and efficiency at work.