During their daily work, childcare professionals frequently experience high musculoskeletal workloads, for example as a result of constrained postures owing to low working heights. The ergonomic structuring of work in children's daycare facilities is therefore a recurring subject of public discussion.
In order for the current state of knowledge to be established and for suitable prevention measures to be planned, the IFA formed a group of experts comprising representatives of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the health and welfare services (BGW), the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the Institute of Ergonomics of Darmstadt University of Technology (IAD), and the Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine of the Goethe University in Frankfurt (ASU).
The surveys revealed deficits in research: studies of musculoskeletal workloads among childcare professionals in children's daycare facilities were virtually non-existent. Nor was it known what effect the underlying structural conditions (such as the number of children in the institutions' care and the distribution of their ages, the ratio of staff to children, and the equipment) had upon the stress situation. In view of the rising number of children under three in daycare facilities, a change in the physical stress was however assumed, for example as a result of more frequent lifting and carrying. Existing strategies for reductions in stress, such as special desks, or chairs for the childcare professionals, had also not yet been studied with regard to their effectiveness.
Against this background, the group of experts planned a survey of the stress situation in children's daycare facilities and an intervention study for scientific evaluation of prevention measures. Based upon the comprehensive analysis of the work situation in nine children's daycare facilities studied, concrete prevention measures were identified at the beginning of 2013. These consisted both of measures for circumstantial prevention (such as ergonomic furniture) and recommendations for behavioural prevention (such as the performance of ergonomics workshops for childcare professionals). These prevention strategies were implemented in 2013 in children's daycare facilities with a medium to high need for intervention, and the effectiveness of the measures reviewed with the aid of the methods applied beforehand (including standardized questionnaires and physiological measurements). The results were published in form of an IFA Report. The results are currently being prepared for practical use in the form of guidance documents.