Potential health and safety problems among child care workers
Crouch, Cherryl M.
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Although there has been considerable research concerning the health and safety of children in child care, there has been very little research concerning the health and safety needs of child care staff working in child care centers. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine whether or not child care workers experience more health- related problems as a result of their employment than persons who are not employed in child care. A questionnaire was developed based on a review of issues relative to health and safety in child care centers. The questionnaire was mailed to nine randomly- selected child care centers in northwestern Illinois and to a control group of 100 secretaries at Northern Illinois University. After the questionnaires had been returned, the data was analyzed in order to determine whether or not child care workers experience more health-related problems than persons who are not employed in child care centers. In addition, child care workers who work with infants and toddlers in diapers were compared to child care workers who work with toilet-trained toddlers and older children in order to determine if there was a difference in the number of health-related problems between these two groups. Based on the results of this study, child care workers are at greater risk than secretaries to common childhood illnesses, suffer more musculoskeletal problems as a result of lifting children older than two years of age, and are subject to more on-the-job stress and stress- related illnesses. In addition, child care workers who are responsible for infants or children in diapers are more at risk to illness than child care workers who are responsible for toilet-trained children. Because significant growth is expected in the day care industry over the next decade, it is important that health and safety considerations for child care workers be incorporated into plans for new day care centers and into licensing regulations as they are updated by the states.