Work-related musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic risk factors in special education teachers and teacher's aides.BMC Public Health. 2016 Feb 10; 16:137.BP
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) have become increasingly common among health-related professionals. Special education personnel who serve students with disabilities often experience physical strains; however, WMSDs have been overlooked in this population. The objectives of this study were to investigate the work-related ergonomics-associated factors in this population and to evaluate their correlation with the WMSDs prevalence.
A questionnaire with three domains, namely demographics, prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and ergonomic factors, designed by our research team was delivered to educators who work in special education schools.
Approximately 86 % of the 388 special education school teachers and teacher's aides in this study experienced musculoskeletal disorders. The lower back, shoulder, and wrist were the three most affected regions. A logistic regression analysis revealed that the participants' background factors, namely >5.5 years of experience (odds ratio [OR] = 4.090, 95 % CI: 1.350-12.390), students with multiple disorders (OR = 2.412, 95 % CI: 1.100-5.287), and other work-related ergonomic factors (assistance in diaper changing and others duties), were strongly associated with the prevalence of WMSD. Nap habit (OR = 0.442, 95 % CI: 0.230-0.851) and having teaching partners in the same class (OR = 0.486, 95 % CI: 0.250-0.945) resulted in low possibility of acquiring WMSDs. The use of supportive devices was associated with a low WMSD prevalence.
The present study revealed an association between WMSDs and specific job features among teachers and teacher's aides in special education schools. Future efforts should emphasize examining safe student-handling ergonomics, formulating policies regarding student-teacher ratio, incorporating mandatory break times at the workplaces, and promoting personal health for preventing work-related injuries.