Is your classroom ergonomical?
Musculoskeletal disorders and back pain account for 31 million of lost working days due to absenteeism. The costs to the economy are huge and perhaps that’s why prevention or intervention for these issues tends to focus on adults in the workforce rather than children.
However, research shows that increasing numbers of children are experiencing neck and back pain. 72% of primary and 64% of secondary school students reported that they had experienced back pain at school. There are currently no legal regulations regarding back and postural health for students that schools are required to follow.
Children spend approximately 30% of their waking hours at school and much of this time is spent seated. Freedom from back pain and good postural health has been shown to have a positive impact on concentration and the ability to learn.
Luckily, there are some simple things that you can do to care for student’s musculoskeletal health
- The 30:30 Rule: for every 30 minutes spent seated, encourage students to stand up, move and stretch for 30 seconds
- Limit the amount of time that students are sat cross-legged on the floor. Try to keep this time to around 10 minutes and encourage students to sit with their legs out in front of them
- 10% of a person’s body weight is recommended as the limit of safe weight for backpacks. Try to encourage students to repack their bags each night so they only bring what they need. Alternatively, consider the provision of lockers where students can store belongings that aren’t required for their next lesson.
- Make sure everybody has a clear view of the front of the classroom, the white board and where you are standing to teach. Students should not need to twist, strain or stretch to clearly see these elements.
- If a student is regularly hunching over their work in order to read or write, consider the quality of their eyesight and consider reporting this to their parents
- Make sure students are active during break times
- Provide students with specially designed ergonomic chairs suitable for their age range.
- Lead by example. Get up and move with them and make sure that you are standing and sitting with a good posture.