Loss Control Insights for Schools
Easy Ergonomics for School Staff (Updated August 2023)
Ergonomics plays a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of both students and staff in school environments. Strains and sprains are consistently among the top causes of injuries in schools. Recognizing the significance of ergonomics in schools and proactively addressing potential issues can greatly enhance the comfort and productivity of school staff. Here are some simple ergonomic solutions you can implement for school employees.
Teachers and Ergonomics
For teachers, daily tasks often involve carrying materials and interacting with students. Encouraging teachers to prioritize their physical well-being is essential. While it might be tempting to carry as much as possible to save time, it's important to be mindful of the strain the extra weight places on the body. Encourage teachers to carry only what comfortably fits in two hands to prevent back strain.
Additionally, while working with students, adopting a seated position rather than kneeling or leaning over desks can alleviate back strain and knee pressure. These simple adjustments can significantly contribute to better ergonomics for teachers.
All Staff Ergonomic Practices
Ergonomics encompasses various roles and settings in schools, including desk-bound tasks. Those who spend substantial time at a desk should adhere to these fundamental ergonomic principles:
Adjust the computer monitor so that the top is just below eye level.
Maintain a relaxed arm position with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
Ensure knees are also at a 90-degree angle, feet flat on the floor, with a gap between the back of knees and the chair's edge.
Utilize chairs with lower back support to promote proper posture.
Ergonomics in the Kitchen
Kitchen staff face unique ergonomic challenges due to heavy lifting and prolonged standing. Proper storage practices are vital to prevent injuries. Heavier kitchen equipment should be stored at levels between knee and waist-height to facilitate safe lifting. To counteract the strain of standing, providing rubber
anti-fatigue mats and advocating for supportive footwear and regular stretching breaks is crucial for promoting the well-being of kitchen staff.
Custodian or Maintenance Staff Ergonomics
Custodial and maintenance staff encounter physical demands that require specialized ergonomic considerations. Emptying mop buckets and removing trash bags can strain the body. Implementing strategic solutions, such as using floor-mounted sinks for mop buckets and adding drainage openings to trash containers, significantly reduces the risk of injuries. When lifting heavy or awkward objects, utilizing appropriate equipment like dollies or hydraulic lifting devices is essential as well.
Ergonomics for Bus Drivers
Bus drivers face challenges of prolonged driving and vibrations, leading to potential lower back discomfort or injury. Encouraging drivers to take breaks, stretch during stops, and apply more force to controls can alleviate strain. Prioritizing their ergonomic well-being can also enhance their overall driving experience.
Developing an Ergonomics Program
Instituting an ergonomics program is a proactive step towards preventing injuries related to repetitive motions, lifting, and awkward postures. While roles like buildings and grounds staff are obvious candidates, it's crucial to extend the program's scope to include all staff, from kitchen personnel to teachers and support staff. Identifying ergonomic risks specific to each role allows for tailored interventions that prioritize the well-being of the entire school community.An ergonomics program can help prevent injuries from repetitive motions, lifting and awkward postures. Start by identifying jobs with ergonomic risks. Your buildings and grounds staff are likely candidates, but don’t forget about kitchen staff, special education and your teachers and other support staff.