by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

Many tasks on the jobsite are limited when a worker is overweight.  So what is the best strategy for workers to maximize their efficiency on the job?

1.  Obviously, lose weight.  But that takes time, and many days of work need done in the meantime.  Well, get started anyway.  The state of Michigan has a whole website dedicated to helping people struggling with obesity to change their lifestyles and diet to lose weight. 

2.  Keep moving.  Activity and exercise on the job is a great way to burn calories.  Adapting tasks to be “easier” can reduce the effort needed to complete a job, but may in the end make the challenge of losing extra pounds more difficult. 

3.  Modify painful tasks.  Workers often suffer from sore knees and hips from carrying extra weight.  If there is a job that hurts and generates little exercise, then do it differently, easier, with other tools, etc…  For example, little energy is exerted when crawling around the shop floor while wiring a trailer, but it’s a killer on arthritic knees.  Use a lift creeper or rolling shop stool to sit and roll comfortably from place to place. 

Suffering through such tasks in great pain makes makes a worker sore and weary even though there were few calories burned.  Then, when another job is to be done that could give great exercise (such as walking across the jobsite to another area), he hops in a truck and drives because “my knees are KILLING me”! 

4. Reaching and grasping can be a real challenge to a worker who can’t get up close to the project he’s working  on. Long-handled magnetic sweeps can be used to retrieve metal objects dropped on the floor.  Grabbing tools or supplies from the back of a work bench or table can be done with a pistol-grip reacher.  Wheelwell tool storage boxes in the bed of a pickup keep the tools close to the edge of the bed for easier reaching.

So, start losing weight, but don’t quit working!  Healthy work can be the best therapy because its productive exercise.  Combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, work can be a ticket to losing weight and feeling better.