Although child care workers and early educators are trained on health and safety issues pertaining to the children in their care, little attention is typically paid to the occupational health and safety issues faced by the workers themselves. For example, child care professionals have musculoskeletal injury rates comparable to those of industrial truck and tractor operators and construction equipment operators.
The Occupational Health & Safety Training is an innovative model currently being piloted in Los Angeles, San Bernardino County, Antelope Valley, San Fernando Valley, and San Jose. The 3-hour training provides information relevant for workers in home-based ECE settings. Topics include learning how to identify and avoid risks associated with handling toxic chemicals (e.g., bleach), establishing policies and procedures to minimize the spread of illness in the workplace, handling job-related stress (e.g., long hours, low wages), and avoiding physical risks associated with working with young children (e.g., muscle strain from lifting or carrying children).
The program is unique in its delivery in that trainers are fellow ECE workers who have participated in an intensive train-the-trainer workshop. This peer approach assures that trainers provide highly relevant content and possess deep understanding of the issues. It also allows the training to be adapted to the unique needs of the participants (e.g., those who work with infants, those who work with a wide range of ages). Trainings and materials are provided in English and Spanish. Group size is limited to 16 to encourage a high level of participation.
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