Prevention of musculoskeletal diseases in teachers and care staff in nursery schools and children's day-care centres

Project No. IFA 4179


completed 06/2011


The activities of childcare professionals may involve high levels of workload upon the musculoskeletal system, for example as a result of constrained postures owing to low working heights. In this context, ergonomic job design in children's daycare facilities is a recurring subject of public discussion. In addition, the increase in care of under-threes and rising education quality standards will add further workload factors to the work of staff in day-care centres. The responsible social accident insurance institutions in Germany see a need for action in this area. The objective of this project was the planning of a study intended to assist in preventing musculoskeletal diseases among childcare professionals.


In order for the current state of knowledge to be recorded and for suitable prevention measures to be planned, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) set up the "ErgoKita" working group. ErgoKita comprised representatives of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the health and welfare services, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), and the Institute of Ergonomics (IAD) at TU Darmstadt. In the first phase and in co-operation with the IFA, the IAD conducted a literature and product survey of the workload situation and of possible prevention strategies in children's daycare facilities. The results of the survey were used for the planning of an intervention study in conjunction with the experts from the "Ergokita" working group. The study is to evaluate prevention measures scientifically.


The literature survey found that to date, very few scientific studies have been conducted on the subject, and that no current figures are available for the musculo-skeletal load situation among childcare professionals in Germany. Furthermore, the influence of underlying structural conditions, such as the age structure of the children, the staff-to-child ratio or the age of the childcare professionals, is not currently known. The product survey revealed approaches to reducing load, such as special desks, and also special chairs for the childcare professionals. The efficacy of these measures has however not yet been scientifically evaluated.
Against this background, the group of experts has called for the existing workload situation to be determined in the first instance in a number of facilities by an analysis involving standardized questionnaires (e.g. COPSOQ) and physiological measurements (e.g. CUELA). The results are to enable possible prevention measures to be identified; these should in turn be reviewed with regard to their effectiveness. During preparation of the study, a questionnaire was developed for classification in terms of the underlying structural conditions. This questionnaire has already been sent to over 800 facilities. An inventory was also compiled of methods by which the work situation can be studied from a mental and physical perspective. Implementation of the intervention study is the subject of IFA project 4191, "ErgoKita - ergonomic design of workplaces in children's daycare facilities".

Last Update:

16 Nov 2011


Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft der TU Darmstadt (IAD)

public service

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards


Muskel-Skelett-Erkrankungen (außer Krebserkrankungen), Ergonomie, Arbeitsplatzgestaltung

Description, key words:

nursery-school teachers, ergonomic design, children's day-care centres, nursery schools, musculoskeletal workloads, work organization, aids, CUELA, under-threes care, lifting and carrying, work design measures, training quality

Further information

Sinn-Behrendt, A,; Bopp, V.; Bruder, R.: Literatur- und Produktrecherche zu möglichen Präventionsmaßnahmen zur Reduktion von Muskel-Skelettbelastungen bei Erzieherinnen und Erziehern. Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft, Darmstadt (2010)

Jahrbuch Prävention (p. 38) (PDF, 2.1 MB, nicht barrierefrei) (in German only)