C&K Kindergartens engaged Back on Track to conduct a manual tasks audit and provide recommendations. The audit was conducted by visiting several centres across South East Queensland, completing worksite assessment, task analyses and consulting with workers.
Ergonomic tools were used to quantify the degree of risk exposure for teachers who perform manual tasks such as lifting and handling children and moving playground equipment.
From this audit, several potentially hazardous manual tasks were identified. Back on Track worked with C&K to develop engineering controls, some of which included:
- Designing an optimal layout for nappy changing stations
- Developing purchasing specifications for new cots including preferred work height, side adjustment mechanism and wheels with brakes
- Developing purchasing specifications for new high chairs including wheels with brakes, height-adjustable seats and one-handed tray removal
- Restructuring storage areas to reduce reaching, bending and lifting
- Replacing task chairs in office areas
Some of the hazardous manual tasks could not be eliminated or reduced by equipment and design solutions and where this was the case, Back on Track developed training to address each specific hazard. The model for training was developed specifically for C&K and their unique needs. In order to roll out training state-wide, including to rural and remote areas, it was necessary that training be deliverable by in-house staff. Resources were developed for C&K Directors to deliver training to their staff during regular meetings or in the line of work.
A suite of training cards was developed detailing safe work methods for 10 common manual tasks performed by kindergarten and children teachers. Training instruction were detailed for lifting and holding children, working at change tables, lifting in and out of high chairs, holding and settling infants, optimising storage facilities and more. C&K Directors were given a train-the-trainer session and supported with resources to deliver the education to their teams. For each task, a set of competency criteria was used and staff were assessed in their knowledge and demonstration of preferred work methods.
The training was well-received by staff and resulted in increased awareness of injury prevention strategies, body mechanics and healthy work habits. Although it cannot be measured, staff reported feeling more comfortable and more appreciated. Following the state-wide roll out of ergonomic equipment and Back on Track’s customised education, C&K Kindergartens experienced a reduction in staff absenteeism and reduced lost time injuries. For a business that is built on people and relationships, investing in the health and well-being of its staff yielded a more productive, happier and healthier workforce.