Posture and Lifting Exposure of Daycare Workers: A Pilot Field Study

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Labaj, Adam
Daycare , Posture , Lifting , Ergonomics , Dosimeter , 3DSSPP
Daycare workers are a specific population that may experience elevated risk of injury due to the tasks performed during normal work. Within daycares, workers are exposed to bent postures, job specific lifting conditions and high exposure to stress. The objectives of the study were to collect up to date data on daycare workers, compare worker groups involving different child ages (Infant, Toddler and Pre School) and attempt to identify the most difficult tasks. Data were collected from 24 workers, in five daycares, using: questionnaire sampling, three dimensional postural tracking and video recording. Questionnaires showed that 81% of workers who completed the survey experience pain in the low back. Additionally, the average Oswestry Disability Index was found to be 17%, showing a minimal pain effect overall. In terms of absolute posture, workers experienced deep flexion greater than 55º for 10% of the shift and flexion greater 70º for 5% of the shift. Compared to paper assessment tools, workers fell in a moderate to severe posture exposure range. Furthermore, on average, workers lifted at frequencies of 0.25 lifts/minute, lifted a total weight of 501 kg (over ~3.3 hours) and experienced compression and shear forces at L4/L5 of approximately 2064N and 199N, respectively. Group comparison showed significant differences for the relative forward flexion and the lifting frequency demonstrating higher exposure for the Infant and Toddler groups as well as a significantly higher total weight lifted for the Toddler group, compared to the Pre School group. Finally, the EVAs revealed the most difficult tasks, in terms of posture and duration, to be the Activity, Nap and Supervision tasks, whereas the questionnaire identified Outdoor Preparation, Diaper Changing, Cleaning and Playing as the most difficult tasks. Comparing to various tolerance limits (lifting, frequency, etc.) the results showed daycare workers experience elevated risk of injury and require more work guidelines, specific to the conditions within daycares. Future work should include larger scale studies, in lab testing (lifting) and more specific analyses on the individual tasks being performed within the daycare.
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