A guide to prevent musculoskeletal disorders between …

Bilbao, July 15 – The European campaign 2020/2022 «Healthy and safe work environments. Let’s lighten the load! ” musculoskeletal disorders (DMS) between i childrenthe teenagers and among young people who enter or will become part of the active labor force.

And in addressing the issue of future generations focuses on how to disseminate appropriate practices, physical well-being and in the field of prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, also in schools.

In this regard, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has promoted the preparation of many documents on the subject, for example recounting the experiences – Finnish, Hungarian and Austrian – for a “active school culture.” And then a document is focused problems among teachers providing prevention guidelines for this little-studied working group.

Therefore, we focus on the contribution “Musculoskeletal disorders in teachers and teaching assistants”(Musculoskeletal Disorders in Teachers and Teaching Assistants) which was published online at OSHwikia space developed by EU-OSHA to enable the exchange of knowledge, information and good practice on occupational safety and health (OSH).

The article focuses on the following topics:

DMS between teachers: causal factors capable of favoring them

The paper recalls that while there is ample evidence that good musculoskeletal health underlies a person’s ability to live and work well, musculoskeletal disorders have often been overlooked and no less reported in strength. of education work in recent years.

The contribution focuses on the possible causal factors capable of favoring DMS.

For example:

  • Awkward working postures (including sitting in children’s chairs, crouching on tables, kneeling, standing for a long time, sitting for a long time, …)
  • Uncomfortably lifting and moving equipment and / or small children (during classroom activities, outdoor games, physical education or carrying books).
  • Psychosocial problems (including workload, mental health, job satisfaction or conflict, stress, work-life balance).

It is then stated that additional risk factors for teachers I am:

  • Physical inactivity – Physical activity maintains and improves the strength and flexibility of the muscles and joints of the body, improves circulation and associated joint and muscle nutrition, maintains and improves balance to reduce the risk of falls and improves emotional well-being, all factors them contributing to musculoskeletal health.
  • Unhealthy work environment – The design and physical environment of a healthy workplace includes ergonomics, movement, rest areas and considers noise, lighting, temperature and air quality. It is a particular challenge to address the ergonomic requirements of adult workers with children’s learning needs, especially in low “child height” environments. It should be remembered that the “perception of inadequate infrastructure” (noise, lighting, temperature, cleanliness, ventilation, dimensions and furniture) is more denounced by primary school teachers.
  • Oldness – The increase in the duration of work activity is a strong predictor of the increase in TME in teachers. And teachers work harder as retirement age increases.
  • High body mass index – Being overweight increases the tension on the body’s musculoskeletal system and obesity increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Vitamin D and calcium deficiency – Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for bone health. A deficiency can lead to a reduction in bone mineral density which increases the risk of fall fractures (one of the most serious musculoskeletal problems in the elderly population).
  • Smoke – In the general population, smokers and ex-smokers experience 60% more back, neck and leg pain and 114% more incapacitating low back pain. Smoking reduces bone mineral density, especially in postmenopausal women. It is associated with more bone fractures, slower healing and an increased risk of hip fractures by up to 40% among men.

The good news is that most musculoskeletal disorders can be prevented, relieve symptoms, and facilitate healing through early intervention, proper treatment, and management of musculoskeletal health, which also includes proper occupational safety and health systems.

DMS among teachers: a guide to risk prevention

The contribution also reports a brief summary guide for the prevention of TME for teachers.

Several measures are presented that can help effectively manage musculoskeletal disorders in schools. We report some of them that refer readers to a full reading of the contribution to OSHwiki.

It is possible to make one healthier work environmentfor example from:

  • Seats, furniture and equipment
    • Seats must be provided that are safe and suitable for the needs of the staff.
    • The health and safety of professionals must be taken into account when purchasing new seats, furniture and equipment.
    • The seats, furniture and equipment are in good condition and meet safety and health requirements.
    • Seats, furniture and equipment are inspected and maintained at regular intervals, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and maintenance schedules.
    • Manual handling equipment is provided and used appropriately by employees.
    • The unsafe equipment is immediately withdrawn from service and communicated to a contact person.
  • Storage
    • Furniture and equipment are stored securely, with free access, to minimize lifting people, transport, and awkward postures.
    • Appropriate storage solutions are considered and used whenever possible.
  • Workplace design
    • Employees have access to desks and chairs at eye level;
    • The working postures of the operators are taken into account and equipment is provided to support the work at the height of the child.
    • The floors are smooth, unobstructed and well lit, and the doors are accessible.
    • The independence of children is encouraged to access their own resources and facilities, especially during meals.
    • Exercise, rest breaks and hydration are encouraged throughout the day.
    • The organization of schedules allows children to be as independent as possible.
    • Employees are consulted about their capacity needs and the configuration of workstations and classrooms.
    • Consultations for the design and construction of new facilities include the occupational safety and health needs of the operators.

There operator safety it also depends on:

  • Formation
    • Regular and specific training on manual manipulation and postural awareness is provided for employees.
    • VDU training is provided for operators who regularly work on computers or mobile devices.
  • Knowledge
    • Teachers and teaching assistants should be aware of the risks of TME in their workplace and how to reduce them (in the classroom, outdoors and on the computer).
    • Operators know how to perform periodic security checks on mobile and security equipment and report any breakdowns.
    • Teachers and teaching assistants are competent and able to do their job safely for themselves and others.
    • Professionals know how to recognize and report the first symptoms of MSD disease through a clear reporting system and school management encourages them to do so.
    • Healthy lifestyles are promoted and initiatives on the subject are supported

DMS between teachers: collaborative and multidimensional approach

Ultimately, the contribution concludes, a greater focus on workplace health is a successful business strategy for improving employee health and the quality of the work environment. In the education sector, occupational health interventions by teachers and teaching assistants also improve the learning experiences and academic performance of children and young people.

However, holistic DMS management requires a integrated approach which recognizes physical, social, and emotional influences and focuses on prevention and early intervention.

In particular a effective collaborative and multidimensional approach includes: school-wide health promotion interventions, better training of educators and school leaders in health and ergonomics of TME, connection with school planners and occupational health professionals to improve teaching and learning environments, awareness of the risks of musculoskeletal disorders and initiatives for a healthy life. lifestyle of employees in the education sector.

In conclusion, we refer to the full reading of the document which contains more information and details on the management of DMS in school and teaching activities.

The link to the website of the campaign “Healthy and safe jobs. We will lighten the load! “


Download the document from which the article is extracted:

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, document “Musculoskeletal disorders in teachers and teaching assistants”, edited by Lorna Taylor, physiotherapist, Jolly Back – OSHWiki.

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