Some may not think of teaching as a hazardous occupation, at least when compared to other jobs, such as construction; however, educators face their own set of on-the-job injuries that may lead to repetitive stress syndrome.
Worksite International notes that classrooms offer little in the way of ergonomics, which may lead to these painful conditions and result in workers’ compensation cases for teachers of all types. While many repeated actions can cause repetitive strain injuries, several seem common to many educators across the board.
1. Writing on a chalkboard or whiteboard
Many schools now use whiteboards instead of traditional chalkboards, but this does little to improve ergonomics for the teachers who use them. The constant motion of reaching up to write may cause shoulder strain over time, which can limit the range of motion or cause tendonitis. Eventually, teachers begin to suffer from daily discomfort and may even reach a point where they can no longer work and must file for compensation.
2. Standing for long periods of time
Many teachers spend all day on their feet, especially those who teach small children who they must monitor constantly. While sore feet is often a common complaint for teachers, they may also suffer back and leg pain as well. Prolonged standing can lead to the development of sciatica, a condition where the pressure of standing for long periods pinches the sciatic nerve, which can cause considerable discomfort.
3. Writing and grading
While some teachers no longer grade by hand, using a mouse to scroll through grading spreadsheets and typing can cause repetitive stress injuries. Finger joints and wrists are usually the most vulnerable.
Teachers can protect their health by taking breaks and using stretching exercises which may prevent some of these injuries.