Ergonomics for Children Guidelines

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Applying Ergonomics in Educational Environments

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Welcome to the Home Page of the ECEE
Technical Committee

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) Ergonomics for Children in Educational Environments (ECEE) Technical Committee (TC) was organised by Cheryl Bennett following a successful symposium at the IEA 2000 Conference in San Diego. Anyone interested in joining the committee is urged to contact the Committee Chair, Karen Jacobs at kjacobs@bu.edu .


The purpose of the EECE TC is to provide a forum for the international exchange of scientific and technical ergonomics information related to children and educational environments.

The Committee promotes professional and public awareness of ergonomics related to children of all abilities in all aspects of their lives and the application of ergonomics in all educational environments.


PTA Resolution and Background

Message sent to members of the ECEE by chairperson, Karen Jacobs on February 17. 2010.

The Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award
As the editor-n-chief for the journal, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, I have established the Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award. This Award was established to honor the lifetime achievements of Cheryl to the area of ergonomics for children, youths, and students. The purpose of the award is to honor the authors of a published paper in WORK who have advanced the body of knowledge in the area of ergonomics for children, youths, and students. It was Cheryl Bennett’s passion to spread the word of children’s ergonomics and it is with this Award that Cheryl’s aspirations will grow in awareness and strength.

The award consists of a cash amount of US $100 and a certificate of achievement. All papers submitted in a calendar year will be automatically eligible for the Award. The Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award Committee will consist of four members of WORK’s Editorial Board and the Editor-in-Chief. Yearly, published papers in the proceeding year will be reviewed in January and the Award recipient(s) will be announced in March. The criteria for selection will be based on the quality of contribution, as documented in the paper, to the advancement of knowledge in the area of ergonomics for children, youths, and students.

ECEE Newsletter
Pedro Henrique Aparício has kindly agreed to be the ECEE Newsletter editor. He anticipates developing two newsletters in 2010. Please send any information that you would like to share in the newsletter to Pedro at pedroaparicio.pt@gmail.com

Updating the ECEE website
The ECEE website is in the process of being updated. In preparation for this update, please send to kjacobs@bu.edu  a listing of your published articles in APA format so we can post them. In addition, please share descriptions of your out reach activities, advocacy initiatives, etc.

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) call for papers HFES has extended its call for papers to February 26, 2010. I hope you will consider submitting papers so we can have a number of presentations related to children, youth, & students. Please go to the HFES website at www.hfes.org for more information. The conference will be held in San Francisco, USA from September 27 through October 1, 2010.

Nordic Ergonomics Society conference
Nordic Ergonomics Society’s annual conference (NES2010) will be held in the city of Stavanger on the west coast of Norway from the (5th ) 6th to the 8th of September 2010. The theme of the conference is “Proactive Ergonomics, implementation of jobs, tasks, systems, and environment.?I have been invited to give a keynote address on School Ergonomics related to the theme of the conference. I hope you will share your initiative with me so I can incorporate them into this address. Please send your information to me at kjacobs@bu.edu For more information on the conference, please go to:


Background Summary

The lack of attention to correct body posture while using computers has become a serious health hazard that is costing people, businesses and government billions of dollars each year.  Tens of thousands of people each year are diagnosed with repetitive stress injuries.  In fact, it is the number one work related health problem in the United States according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  But what was once considered an adult diagnosis is now occurring as early as the teenage years.  Students are using computers starting as early as the preschool years and consistently by the time they are in kindergarten.  There is a strong correlation between this increased computer use and poor posture at the computer with early onset of repetitive stress injuries in our students.

Students and a majority of teachers are unaware of correct body posture and positioning when seated at the computer.  Computer stations in schools are frequently arranged such that desks, chairs and computer monitors remain at the same stationary height while students come in a wide variety of sizes.  In order to prevent widespread health problems in students as they grow older, we need to make the importance of correct posture and proper ergonomic workstation set-up and proper posture habits while working at a computer a standard part of computer education.  Promotion and practice of proper workstation health within the structured school environment will influence young people to practice proper sitting posture during both school and non-school hours.

Computer Workstation Health

Whereas,     the health and well being of children and youth are among the primary concerns of the PTA, and the PTA works with public schools and districts to ensure that all children and youth have access to appropriate and safe classroom resources; and

 Whereas,     the majority of school-age children use computers on a regular and ever-increasing basis, as early as preschool and continuing into adulthood; and

 Whereas,     many public school students sit in classrooms and computer labs with improperly aligned posture and there is little or no understanding of the importance of workstation ergonomics in our schools; and

 Whereas,     research shows that children and youth are experiencing significant musculoskeletal discomfort associated with computer use; and

 Whereas,     incorrect ergonomics and improper posture at computer workstations are contributing to health problems and repetitive strain injuries in the United States; and

 Whereas,     research shows that repetitive stress injuries are developed over a number of years, and therefore students?postural habits during school years will affect their health as young adults; and

 Whereas,     ergonomic intervention and education have been shown to reduce discomfort caused by frequent computer use; now therefore be it

 Resolved,    That the California State PTA urges its units, councils, and districts to work with their school districts to develop and implement specific training curricula that introduces workstation ergonomics and proper computer-use posture to all students; and be it further

 Resolved,    That the California State PTA urges its units, councils, and districts to recommend to their school districts that all computer workstations in schools be ergonomically correct and adjustable to fit the needs of students and teachers of all sizes.


ECEE TC Meeting 11th August 2009 at IEA Beijing



Leon Straker (L.Straker@curtin.edu.au) ?acting chair

Karen Jacobs (by Skype connection)

Marina Ciccarelli (M.Ciccarelli@curtin.edu.au)

Thomas Smith (smith293@umn.edu)

Dana Ben-Yishay Rozen (dana@netoergo.com)

Kapila Jayaratne (kapjay613@gmail.com)

Deepak Sharan (Deepak.sharan@recoup.in)

Thomas Levine (TKL22@cornell.edu)

Gunnevi Sundelin (gunnevi.sundelin@physiother.umu.se)

Courtenay Harris (c.harris@curtin.edu.au)

Ewa Gustafsson (ewa.gustafsson@amm.gu.se)

Andree Woodcock (a.woodcock@coventry_ac.uk)

Lawrence Schulse (ljhs@uh.edu)


ECEE activities

Leon gave an overview of the activities of ECEE based on the report prepared by Karen.


Publications related to the area included a special issues in the journals Ergonomics (guest edited by Stephan Legg) and Work (2 issues guest edited by Carolyn Sommerich and dedicated to Cheryl Bennett) and the first book specifically on children and ergonomics ?Ergonomics for the child: designing products and places or toddler to teens edited by Valerie Rice and Rani Lueder.


Conference presentations on the area were made at the IEA 2009, US HFES 2008, UK ES 2008, NES 2008, PREMUS 2007, HFESAustralia 2007.


IEA 2009 saw a substantial growth in the number of presentations in this stream (6) with papers from many countries including: Tunisia, Algeria, Israel, UK, Finland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, USA, Venezuela.

Marina Ciccarelli hosted the ECEE outreach session via a series of posters outlining the achievements of the ECEE in prior conferences and at IEA 2009. To improve visibility and access to the outreach sessions, two recommendations for future IEA conference organisers are to (i) locate the Outreach sessions adjacent to where tea/coffee is being served (as the outreach sessions occurred during the morning and afternoon tea breaks); and (ii) to list each of the outreach sessions in the daily conference schedule (not just at the back of the program).


Marina Ciccarelli also ran the workshop (in Karen Jacob’s absence) regarding strategies to place ergonomics within the school curricula. Five participants from Australia, Mexico, USA and China attended the workshop and shared their country specific experiences.


Members are asked to forward details of articles or conference presentations/publications to Karen, along with an abstract if permissible, for posting on ECEE website.


Members are asked to promote ECEE at any conferences they attend. This may include arranging a symposium of papers on related topics. Leon suggested there should be such a symposium at CybErg 2011.


ECEE has a website which members are encouraged to send material to Karen for updating resources at the website. Karen also provides a valuable newsletter/email update to members from time to time.


Members are asked to forward interesting information to Karen for inclusion on the website/newsletter.


Projects related to ECEE aims have been conducted in NZ, USA, UK and Sri Lanka.


In New Zealand, Pat Kane of Furnware Limited successfully lobbied for classroom furniture standards to be included in the NZ Education Buildings Green Star pilot rating tool. The tool is being trialled in 5 schools and approval from the Australian parent company of Green Star to include it in their ratings.


In the United Kingdom, Andree Woodcock reported that post-occupancy surveys were now being done in newly built primary schools. Andree also mentioned the development of an ergonomic board game.


In Sri Lanka, Kapila Jayaratne reported that a situation analysis of the ergonomics in schools conducted by the Ministry of Health had been well received by the Ministry of Education. One outcome had been the decision to split text books by school term to lighten backpack loads. Considerable media attention had been attracted which provided useful education to students and parents.


In India, Dr. Deepak Sharan, a Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon and Ergonomist from Bangalore, presented a research paper titled ?strong>It's Not Growing Pains! Repetitive Strain Injuries in Children and Adolescents?/span> at the 13th National Conference of Paediatric Orthopaedic Society of India, at Jaipur, India (Feb 2-4, 2007). About 50 children were documented to have MSD's due to overloaded backpacks, gaming consoles, mobile phones and computers. This paper is now being readied for publication. After his sustained campaign, in association with Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Kerala State in India passed a law banning overloaded backpacks (weighing over 10% of the child's body weight) in its schools (http://www.deepaksharan.com/pocs_backpack.html).



In the USA, Thomas Smith reported on HFES members teaching ergonomics to community.


New Business


Cheryl Bennett memorial fund.

Karen Jacobs reported that discussions with Cheryl’s husband had resulted in him being willing to provide up to $1-2,000 matching funding to support activity related to ECEE. The initial idea had been to fund projects. Thomas Smith had investigated the establishment of charitable trusts and reported one organisation required a minimum fund size of $25,000. He also reported there were three main challenges with a fund: raising the funds, maintaining the funds and awarding the funds. Given the difficulties in raising sufficient funding Leon suggested a memorial award. Funds may or may not be attached to the award, with the award being the thing of value. He suggested the award could be either for research developing new knowledge or application of existing knowledge. It was suggested that the award could go to the best paper published on the area. It was also suggested that there could be a slot at the IEA congresses for a memorial lecture.


Members are asked to suggest options for how the memory of the contribution of Cheryl Bennett can be maintained.


Work With Computer Systems joint session

Alain Toomingas, chair of the WWCS Technical Committee, had attended some of the ECEE sessions at IEA 2009 and noticed the similarity of themes with WWCS sessions. He proposed conducting a joint session at the next IEA. Members agreed that this was a good idea.


Promoting ECEE in Industrially Developing Countries

Kapila Jayaratne suggested ergonomics needs to get on the agenda for WHO, World Bank etc as this would provide a good entry point for IDC as these international organisations have significant influence.


The following photograph records those present:

Back row left to right: Kapila, Leon, Dana, Andre, Courtenay, Deepak

Front row left to right: Thomas S., Marina, Karen (by Skype), Thomas L., Ewa, Gunnevi



The meeting was closed with members thanked for their contribution.

Leon Straker.


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last updated 2010/02/24
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