Ergonomics - all just child’s play?

11 Jun 2018

Health & Safety


Nether Alderley

Ergonomics is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the news, but with the focus always on adults and not children. Bad habits and practices can affect children too, but they are less likely to seek assistance.

Children need to learn how to look after their bodies whilst they’re young in order to stay healthy later in life. With the amount of time children spend using technology nowadays, this area is especially important.

A few members of the EHS team recently visited Nether Alderley Primary School in Cheshire to talk to the year 5 and 6 children about ergonomics and how to stay safe when using various tech items. The main focus of the session was on iPads, as the children at this school use them in most lessons throughout each day and also when they’re at home. Children are taught how to use iPads in terms of the content on them, without necessarily being given advice on how to hold them or what position to be sat in whilst they use them, and so this is what the team wanted to focus on. The children all brought their iPads to the session and the team used them throughout to demonstrate.

The team kicked off the session by asking the children what they thought ergonomics was all about, with some good answers from the children such as posture, using equipment safely etc. The team explained to the children that a simple way of describing ergonomics was ‘making everyday things easier and safer to use.’ One of the key principles of ergonomics is ‘moving’ because staying stationary for too long can cause discomfort, and so the team decided to demonstrate this by getting all the children up and doing a few simple exercises to none other than Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ The children were much more engaged and alert after the exercise… which was exactly the intention!

The team looked at how basic ergo principles such as staying comfortable, taking regular breaks and stretching, can all help to keep their bodies healthy. They focused on four key body parts; eyes, neck, arms and back. Taking each body part in turn, they showed the children their comfort can be improved by using iPads properly. After each body part had been discussed, the children were asked to join in with some stretches and were encouraged to make stretching a regular part of their everyday lives. They were even set some homework to go and show their parents the stretches they had learnt and try and get Mum and Dad involved too!

Towards the end of the session, the children were shown some images of children who were using devices in an incorrect way and asked to point out how they thought they were being affected by this. The images showed children with neck pain, back discomfort, and aching shoulders, caused by the way they were using certain equipment.  All of the children got involved and contributed various answers that showed just how much they had learnt.

The session was wrapped up with a quick overview of the importance of hydration for staying healthy. The children were told that for their age group they should be drinking no less than 1.5 litres of water each day; something which shocked them all! The team explained how our bodies need more water when we’re moving about or on a hot day, but also the importance of staying hydrated to stay focused and alert; which is especially important during lessons! The children were each given a small bottle of water to drink and also, a fold up water bottle that they can carry around and fill up to stay hydrated when they’re out and about.

The session was a big success and both the Delta-Simons team and the children thoroughly enjoyed it. Jess Beckwith, ergonomics specialist from the EHS team said "I thought it was a great idea to work with the children, to show them how to use their devices in ways that will keep them comfortable. As a school which uses iPads regularly, the session gave them the opportunity to really think about how they use their devices and the impact that this can have. I feel our advice will make a difference to the way that the children work, preventing discomfort further down the line."

Going forward, the EHS team hope they can visit more schools to present on this topic and educate more children on the importance of ergonomics. The next step will be presenting in a secondary school, so you can bet mobile phones will be the focus in this session!

Related article: How to stay comfortable in a time of changing workplaces