15-1 Constructing a program to reduce back pain among childcare workers
Constructing a program to reduce back pain among childcare workers in “Emuna” day-care centers
Miri Katz Shaul PT, M.P.H
Background: Childcare workers are a segment of the population whose occupational safety and health have been widely neglected; therefore, these workers are exposed to sever health risks. The workplace environment, as well as the demands of the job, cause childcare employees to use unhealthy body postures which overload the musculoskeletal system and result in a wide range of injuries. The main outcome of such injuries is back pain, although some could even lead to work incapacity.
Aim: To devise, implement and assess the outcomes of a program for reducing back pain among childcare workers, using the “precede-proceed” model. The program aimed to address the issue on the personal, organizational and national levels.
Program description: The program was implemented in seven “Emuna” day-care centers in the metropolitan area of Haifa, Israel, and included seven managers and 80 childcare workers. The program was implemented in three phases: development of back-pain-avoidance proficiencies (knowledge, awareness, and better practices) on the personal and team levels; introduction of organizational-level improvements in the work environment; and national education policy adjustments, to include ergonomics in the childcare training curriculum.
Assessment: The assessment was done by comparing data (on knowledge, attitudes and functional ability) before and after the focused intervention in the daycare centers. Organizational and government level outcomes were also examined.
Findings: The intervention program resulted in the following changes: participants’ back-bending technique while tending to a child and while performing cleaning tasks improved. An increase was observed in their knowledge regarding the prevention of back pains. Some of the heavy equipment was replaced by lighter and easier-to-operate equipment, and a discussion was held with high ranking officials from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor regarding the inclusion of ergonometric contents in childcare employees’ training.
Conclusions: 1. Improving the health status of the childcare workers in the “Emuna” day-care centers necessitates a fundamental ystemic approach. 2. Childcare employees’ health can be improved through guidance, professional assistance, and the cooperation of key figures within the organization. 3. A change of policy is necessary in order to improve the health status of the large groups of childcare employees across the country.
Key words: childcare workers, intervention program, low back pain, health promotion, ergonomics, safety.