Young children continue to remain at risk of back pain and spinal injuries due to the weight of the bags they carry to and from school. Primary school pupils in Ireland routinely carry bags filled with books, equipment, sports kit and lunches which often weigh more than 2 stone.
1 in 4 children now have back problems because of heavy school bags. This finding is based on a Spanish study of over 1,400 school children. It found that over half the children had back packs exceeding 10% of their body weight.
Surveys done in the UK have also found that nearly half of all teenagers have had occasional back ache from poor posture and from carrying over loaded bags. The Department of Education and Skills is aware of the problems relating to heavy school bags and has produced documentation on the subject. Positive action has been taken by some schools to try and reduce the potential risk of injury to children but more needs to be done. Actions taken consist of a range of measures, including the provision of lockers and in the case of second level schools the arrangement of the timetable into double class periods, active liaison with parents and the coordination of homework by subject teachers.
Speaking about the potential for legal action against Schools by affected children, Liam Moloney, a Naas based Healthcare Solicitor said today “it is recommended that school children do not carry more than 10% of their body weight. Children carrying 15% of their body weight are at risk of developing bad posture which can cause back problems later on in life.’’
Mr Moloney added “the Department of Education and Science have recommended that schools should introduce uniform rules which allow children to keep their books in school lockers and desks to avoid the need to carry an entire day of schoolwork with them from class to class. Nobody wants children to suffer back pain or injury so this is something that the Department of Education and Schools should immediately address’’
He continued “the State could face thousands of future compensation claims from school children who suffer back injuries if their School Managers have not complied with the recommendations made by the Department of Education.”