Wear and tear

Like all matter, our bodies are exposed to entropic degradation, are subject to wear and tear – and so we slowly go to pieces.

In the past years at industry events there has been much talk about the effect that tree work has on our bodies, what damage we sustain – repetitive strain injuries, musculoskeletal disorder – and how to counter it. Likewise for discussions on stretching, exercises or remedial therapy. This is all good stuff, as far as I am concerned only good can come out of awareness.

These ailments have the “advantage” that quite often we can do something to mitigate them, as there comes that point where one can no longer ignore them and is forced to take action.

UV damage to the skin is more perfidious in the sense that it can go unnoticed for a long time, consequently, I suppose, there seems to be less discussion about it – maybe because protection is taken for granted, as a no-brainer? Or rather is it viewed as something fairly minor? Not true, says the UK HSE or German SVLFG data: melanoma are right up at the top of charts of nastiness afflicting people working outdoors – the baseline is that this is a really serious condition that can potentially kill you.

The difference between attitudes in Australia or New Zealand and norther hemisphere countries is striking. It struck me that sun blockers are very much a topic in the souther hemisphere, yet here they remain a bit off to one side.

Last week at Arbor Berlin, I received as a give away a credit card-size piece of cardboard with a UV sensitive spot on it that indicates UV levels. I was quite surprised by the fact that even in conditions where I would have thought sun screen to be unnecessary, UV remained relatively high.

There is a salutary lesson here: there is a rationale in cultivating awareness for damage we can avoid, mitigate or prevent, not merely for conditions we can perceive immediately, but also for those that may only affect us many years down the road.