Baby got back: scientists study lift and bend demands in childcare

by Freya Lucas

November 20

Changing nappies is the most demanding task on educators’ backs, a new study has found.

 

The Comparison of lifting and bending demands of the various tasks performed by daycare workers study is due to be published in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics in January 2019.

 

The study was able to identify the most physically stressful tasks, in terms of lifting and postural demands, and recommended that the tasks be redesigned in light of the findings, to improve the working conditions of those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.

 

Worksafe Victoria have found that the leading cause of injury for educators in ECEC services is lifting, carrying and moving children and objects, and with a number of high-profile cases of educators claiming compensation for injuries acquired at work, the research is likely to be of interest to those in the ECEC sector.

 

24 caregivers were monitored over a three-hour period, with eleven different tasks identified during that time. Posture was monitored during each task,with the findings showing that most of the lifting and repetition occurred during two tasks – preparation (0.6 lifts per minute)  and changing nappies (0.8 lifts per minute).

 

Other tasks which required high levels of bending were attending to children and cleaning. Educators in the study expressed the most concern about being injured during the “preparation” tasks, which involved setting up outdoor environments and moving furniture.

 

The study showed that the average educator working with children in nappies is lifting a cumulative load of 183 kg in a three and a half hour time span. Those educators involved in preparation tasks were lifting approximately 187 kg in the same time frame.

 

Concluding the research, the scientists called for the redesign of workflows and the use of more appropriate furniture to protect educators from injury.

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