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Early childhood teacher health and wellbeing: Rights, risks, and implications

Susan Bates

All workers in New Zealand can expect to have their rights to health implemented in their workplaces. For early childhood teachers, health risks extend to the children they care for, as well as their own offspring. Teachers and carers in daycare and kindergarten are exposed to a range of diseases and sustain various injuries through work practices and environments. Pregnant teachers and those with pre-existing medical conditions are at particular risk of environmental factors such as infection, heavy and repetitive lifting, excessive noise, and poor air quality. Early childhood teachers are also at risk of mental-health problems due to the emotional nature of their work, a high workload and stress levels, poor regulations, and from bullying. Workplace bullying causes both physical and psychological damage, often chronic and long-lasting, which must impact on the quality of crucial relationships with young children.

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