Dr Britta Weber
Alte Heerstr. 111
53757 Sankt Augustin
Phone: +49 2241 231-2812
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ErgoKita: Ergonomic design of workplaces in nursery schools
A study of working conditions in nursery schools is designed to help prevent musculoskeletal disease among nursery school teachers
In the daily work situation, nursery school teachers are often exposed to high musculoskeletal workload from forced postures owing to low working heights. Ergonomic design in nursery schools has therefore been the repeated subject of public debate.
To assess the current state of knowledge and to plan suitable prevention measures, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of DGUV (IFA) has convened a panel of experts. It brings together representatives of the social accident insurance institutions for North-Rhine/Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, the accident insurance institution of the health and welfare sector, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the Institute of Ergonomics of the Technical University of Darmstadt (IAD) and the Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine of the Goethe University of Frankfurt (ASU).
In their inquiries, the experts have uncovered gaps in the research. There have so far been few investigations into the musculoskeletal workload of teaching staff in nursery schools. Furthermore, it is not known how the structural conditions (e.g. number and age distribution of the supervised children, teacher/pupil ratio or furnishing/equipment) affect workload. In view of the growing number of under-threes attending nursery schools, a change in physical workload is nevertheless anticipated, e.g. due to increased lifting and carrying. In addition, existing proposals for the reduction of workload, such as special tables or teacher’s chairs, have not yet been examined for their effectiveness.
Against this background, the panel of experts is planning a survey of the level of workload in nursery schools and an intervention study for the scientific evaluation of prevention measures. To this end, nursery schools are to be categorised according to possible factors affecting the workload situation, and the physical and mental working conditions are to be recorded in an analysis of the current situation in several nursery schools. Prevention measures are to be derived from the findings from this analysis and nursery schools assisted in their implementation. The effectiveness of the measures is to be checked among other things with standardised questionnaires and physiological measurements. Finally, the results are to find expression in guidance for practical action.
The project is being carried out under cooperation between the IAD, ASU and IFA and is being financially supported from the research fund of the DGUV. The project kicked off in June 2011 and the survey of the structural conditions of work in nursery schools is already underway. To this end, questionnaires have been distributed to nursery schools in North-Rhine/Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. In connection with these questionnaires, nursery schools can also state whether they are interested in participating in the intervention study.