Disabling Injuries to Childcare Workers in Minnesota, 1985 to 1990

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Abstract

Injuries to clients in childcare centers have been studied to some degree, but the problem of worker injuries in childcare centers has remained unexplored. To investigate this problem, data were accessed from two sources for the years 1985 to 1990:1) Minnesota Department of Jobs and Training for data pertinent to the populations of childcare center workers for each year of the study, and the 2) Minnesota Department of Labor for all case files relevant to reported injuries incurred by childcare center workers for each year of the study. Data analyses were conducted of all injuries as well as a subanalysis of back injuries incurred by female workers.

The overall injury rate for the 6-year period was 1.08 per 100 workers. Of the 440 childcare worker injury cases, a mean age of 32 years (range, 17 to 72 years) was identified; 50% of all cases were below the age of 29 years. Analysis by subclassifications of childcare workers indicated that cooks had the highest injury rate (3.61 per 100 workers) and the greatest mean number of weeks of temporary total disability (13.2 weeks). According to anatomic site, injuries involving the back accounted for the greatest proportion of the total injuries (34.1%); 49% involved lifting a child. To protect childcare workers adequately, additional policies and regulations will be required, as well as further study in this area. Emphasis in the area of back injury is clearly needed, including education on proper lifting techniques and relevant application of engineering technology.

Of further concern is the possibility for persistent disability among many of these workers, which can be costly to government and leave the worker financially strained. Although limited data regarding costs were available, the mean cost identified for daycare worker injuries was $3759, and this does not account for personal costs associated with these injuries. Such costs, in concert with the impact of physical trauma and associated limitations incurred by the employee as well as the limitations imposed upon the employer, make this an important problem.

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