What are the risk factors for childcare workers?

The typical risk factors for childcare workers are repetitive bending, static bending, and lifting children from floor level, into and out of cribs or playpens, as well as onto and off of changing tables.

What are some possible control measures?

  • To reduce lifting the child up to and down from changing tables, consider a walk-up changing table—one with stairs a child can climb. Existing changing tables can be modified with steps as well.
  • Involve the children as much as possible when picking up toys, serving and clearing meals, and simple clean up jobs.
  • Consider raising the height of playpens and cribs to minimize bending. The bottom of the crib should be adjusted to minimize lifting, while at the same time not raising the child to a height where he/she is at risk of climbing or falling out. Playpens can be placed on elevated surfaces to help reduce bending.
  • Encourage providers to sit down while interacting with the children. Providers tend to bend more than necessary, especially while working with the child for long periods of time.
  • Teach providers to use the “build the bridge” technique while bending. That is, get them to support their upper body weight on their knee or a piece of furniture with a free hand while bending. This can substantially reduce the load on the spine, especially during any degree of sustained bending.
  • Use good body mechanics. Keep the child close to the body while lifting and minimize any twisting. Move the feet; do not twist the upper torso.
  • Instead of just bending and squatting, kneel on one or two knees. Consider providing the caregivers with kneepads or kneeling mats. Kneeling will reduce the amount of bending and squatting and will allow the providers to move with the child. There are a variety of kneepads, including foam and gel types that are more comfortable to wear. If there is a frequent need to kneel in various areas throughout the day, there are also double-knee pants into which small cushions can be placed at the knees to avoid wearing straps.