From the 18-year-old who just graduated from high school to the career changer in his or her 40s, technicians enter the field of automotive repair with different levels of health and fitness. Automotive repair requires constant changes in body positions throughout the work shift, some of which put undue stress on the body. To ensure techs stay fit for the demands of his or her job and avoid or reduce possible work injuries, it’s important to know the wellness needed to wrench.
Consider the work shift and its multitude of possibilities for a tech: bending under the hood, laying under a vehicle by creeper, and standing, squatting, reaching, pulling and turning a wrench. Couple these with moving within and around the bay to access diagnostic tools or OEM repair information from ALLDATA, and you’ve just stressed your body. While every job has its stressors on the human body, repair technicians face daily repetitive movements that can have long-term effects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains in the occupational outlook handbook for automotive service technicians that “although automotive problems can often be identified and fixed with computers (such as accessing diagnosis and repair information in ALLDATA Repair), technicians perform many tasks with greasy parts and tools, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.”
O*Net OnLine further describes the tasks, tools, technology, knowledge, skills and abilities of Automotive Master Mechanics in its summary report for job titles such as automotive tech or Certified ASE Master Automotive Technician, which make up most of ALLDATA’s customers. These job titles also reflect the former roles of the ALLDATA employees who provide industry-leading support by way of product development or master-level phone support through ALLDATA Tech-Assist.
Unlike the BLS outlook, which warns about uncomfortable positions, this summary states that techs are reported to spend time standing, continually – during about 74 percent of their shift. Among the abilities required for this position, the summary also describes the following movements that can affect the body over days, months or any number of years:
Arm-Hand Steadiness – The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Control Precision – The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Finger Dexterity – The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate or assemble very small objects.
Problem Sensitivity – The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Manual Dexterity – The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate or assemble objects.
Where’s The Wiring Diagram for This?
While you won’t find a wiring diagram in ALLDATA products for your own body’s particular Year-Make-Model-Engine, it’s important for you to know where all those wires lead: your brain. It is estimated that every new habit takes 21 days to form, and you can avoid possible issues by practicing the tips below consistently over at least three weeks’ time. Don’t think you have the time? Consider Ben Franklin’s famous wellness philosophy – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When done properly, these three tips should enhance your ability to perform skilled movements and reduce the risk of injury, muscle soreness and tension.
Warm up. Just as you would warm up the motor of a car before driving it, warming up helps get your body ready for the task at hand. Warming up is different than stretching. Warming up requires you to raise your core body temperature by one to three degrees Fahrenheit.
Stretch. Warming up by itself is not enough, according to sports medicine research. But, warming up followed by stretching does increase the necessary range of motion for the position changes techs need throughout the workday. Increasing your range of motion helps to prevent injury.
Practice the job. While it may sound silly, practicing the activity or a “watered down” version of your work can help you perform better. This part of your warm up should consist of movements you will likely encounter in your workday, but not be as intense. Go through all of the motions of your workday to finalize your warm-up.
It’s easy to dismiss health and wellness preparations when you’re healthy and feeling fine. It’s a whole different story when you’re injured or in pain when doing your job. Save yourself from wondering if stretching would have helped prevent your injury or worrying you might not be able to return to work by taking these few simple steps now. To Your Health!