Topic ID #33373 - posted 8/13/2014 5:59 AM

Field Employment: The Physical Side


At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I wanted to start this thread to remind people expecting to work as field technicians that they have a responsibility to be physically fit for the task.  Possibly in keeping with the national trend away from fitness, I have noted an increase in the number of technicians seeking work or working who just are not making the effort to get in shape or stay in shape.  This is not taking a cheap shot at the random, overweight guy on the bus.  These folks have chosen to work in a physically demanding field, but are not willing to make the effort to be fit for their duties.

As a result, we are seeing a significant upswing in condition-based injuries.  I understand that anybody might twist an ankle, but when that person is 20-30 pounds overweight and does not exercise regularly, they have invited the injury.  When a technician has done no exercise in the off season and then strains their back, they have invited that injury.  When the heavy smoker is fatigued and gets sick after six days of survey, they need to think about the relationship of smoking and endurance issues.  If your after-hours alcohol consumption is affecting your ability to do the job, you need to change your habits or change your job.  If the aging process is negatively affecting your productivity, you may need to be more diligent in your efforts to stay fit.  Heat stroke is no big surprise if you are overweight and out of shape.

When you hire on to be a technician, you are saying that you are physically fit to do the job.  If you are not, please do not lie to your employer.  You will only screw the project eventually.  I can almost guarantee that we will not hire you ever again.  If you are not sure the physical demands of a particular project or job, you need to ask before you accept the position.

The other side of this discussion is that technicians who take care of themselves are much more likely to be hired and rehired.  If you were a college athlete, make sure that is on your resume.  If you are currently a runner, a biker, a hiker, or a swimmer, put that on your resume.  If you are playing league sports, I take that as a good sign.  If you are physically fit, make sure that shows up on your resume.  These days you might increase your chance to get hired by putting your height and weight on your resume.

To those looking to get hired for the first time as a field tech, you have to be aware that this can be a physically demanding job.  You can be moving a lot of dirt, traversing awful topography and vegetation, and possibly working 50-60 hours per week.  Weather conditions can amplify the challenge.  You need to do an honest appraisal of yourself.  If you are not fit, do something about it.  If you are not fit and do not want to change, I would suggest a laboratory or museum position instead of a field work position.

That is my rant for today.  

Post ID#20544 - replied 8/13/2014 7:26 AM


You mean this is unacceptable??!?!

Post ID#20545 - replied 8/19/2014 8:37 AM

SHPO Grunt

On the other hand, I've seen overweight, smokers and drinkers in their '60's work a lot of younger "in shape" crew members asses off.

Post ID#20547 - replied 8/19/2014 11:39 PM


I have to agree with the SHPO Grunt a bit.  Although you do see the odd 300 pound "field tech" fall in the shovel test they just dug with one hand in their pocket, there are many more newbies complaining about the harsh conditions and expectations that their professors never mentioned and just as many seasoned archaeologists who know their limits and perform their duties safely and efficiently according to the experience they have acquired.  I don't think the habit of companies supporting worthless employees on the backs of good hardworking ones who make up for them is anything new.  It's why we all get paid shit relative to our education and the level of physical demands from the job.  I came out of school with knee injuries and arthritis and I was physically fit and in  my twenties.  This job will kick your ass sooner or later.  Companies who suffer the fools who do it to themselves deserve it.

I would not advise people to put their numbers or weekend hobbies on their resume (Might get laughed at and tossed in the bin).  Maybe put your personal bests for shovel tests done in a day or unit levels or features or leadership roles (however small).

I would also recommend that people be able to pass a drug test.  At the very least show some respect for your co-workers and your profession by not showing up for work high or hungover, endangering yourself and the safety or livelyhood of the people around you.  And don't enable those who do, they will show their own ineptitude or quit soon enough.

I don't think 20 or 30 pounds extra invites injury, but poor occupational practices do.  Companies not following OSHA regulations or common sense.  Employees not taking breaks when they need to or supervisors not giving them.  Don't risk an injury to meet a deadline or get off early, because ultimately it costs the company more.  

If you want to get rehired, even to a company that looks at you like a number in the bottom line, work safely to your ability, but do so consistently.  

Eventually it will wear the ends off of any persons bones, so put some money away for retirement (what ever that is) or one hell of a funeral bash.

I understand exactly where Spider is coming from.  It only takes one person with an inauspicious injury to rear the ugly head of workers comp and ruin things for others with legitimate ones.  Companies often claim they have strict policies about substance abuse, but then hold the knowledge of actions contrary to the policy over employees with workplace injuries.  Then there is no need to follow safety protocols, or even required breaks.  It's a practice that is definitely not exclusive to our profession but one I have seen creeping within it during the short time I have been employed in it.   

Don't give up on someone who is trying to change, Spider, but I wouldn't fault you for highlighting someone who isn't. 

Whatever you it well...or at least do it better than you did it the last time.

Post ID#20550 - replied 8/25/2014 9:21 PM


And I think that photo may be a "special" case...

Post ID#20551 - replied 8/26/2014 12:54 PM


I have to admit Spider is right. However, I would take it a step further and say this is more of a commonality vs. an occasional thing. The attitude and work ethic of today's society is a fraction of what past generations brought to the table. 

Post ID#20552 - replied 8/26/2014 5:36 PM


In my day we walked to school uphill in the snow both ways!

Waaah Waaah.  Every generation works plenty hard for what little they get.  I have had waay more hard working field techs over the years than not.

I heartily disagree with your statement.


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