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Childcare worker

Childcare workers undertake behaviour management, education and care of children between the ages of 0-5 years. Some centres also provide before and after school care which involves driving the school bus to pick up and drop off children.

As well as providing early learning education to the children, childcare educators are required to complete cleaning tasks, including personal hygiene care of the children, sweeping, mopping, wiping benches as well as occasional food preparation and distribution. There is some lifting involved throughout the day from setting up and packing away the outside play area, carrying bedframes and lifting and carrying mops and buckets.


Must have completed or be studying to complete education and care qualification.

  • Assistant – Commence Certificate III Children's Services within 3 months of employment
  • Group Leader – Certificate III and studying to complete Diploma Children Services
  • Centre Director – Completed Diploma Children Services

Tasks and tools used

  • supervising children in rooms and outdoor play area
  • negotiating uneven surfaces including synthetic grass and mats in outdoor area
  • setting up of outdoor play area and equipment between 1-20kg over a distance of 3-5m, and squatting between 10-15 times to unfold a 20-25kg mat over sandpit (2 person lift)
  • organising area for sleep breaks for children, up to 24 bedframes (2kg each) lifted in succession over a distance of 5m
  • continual lifting, carrying and lowering children (maximum 12 children) (approximately 4-10kg per child)– from floor to nappy change tables (waist height) 30-35 nappy changes/day– from floor (toddler standing) onto bed– from floor to employees hip/waist
  • continual picking up of toys (0-2kg)
  • pushing of a food distribution trolley between 5-10kg over 20m
  • assisting with toilet training of toddlers, nappy changes for babies
  • cleaning duties including filling, emptying and pushing of mop with bucket (0-5kg)
  • tasks may be repetitive and require standing for long periods

Personal protective equipment

  • standard uniform with closed-in shoes
  • senior first aid certificate
  • asthma and anaphylactic training
  • sunscreen

Critical physical job demands and other task requirements

Critical job
demand descriptor
% of time the
task is performed
  • continual walking around indoor and outdoor areas over even and uneven surfaces (mats, tiled bathrooms surface, synthetic grass and sand)
  • maintaining semi-full squat position for 10-30 seconds at any one time when interacting with children (particularly at activities desk)
  • talking and interacting with children
  • picking up child from ground level to carry and place onto nappy change table (and vice versa)
  • holding child on nappy change table with one hand (30-35 nappy changes per day)
  • picking up toys/objects off the ground
  • moving outdoor play equipment
  • lifting and lowering beds to/from floor and placing sheets on beds
  • wiping/washing children's hands
  • cleaning walls, play equipment, bookcases, activity desks below waist height
  • sweeping, dust panning
  • emptying garbage bins
  • lifting/lowering sandpit mat from storage
  • distributing food plates to children
  • reaching floor to overhead height
  • carrying bed frames, play equipment and children eg. outdoor play equipment (0-15kg) over a distance of 3-5m
  • lifting and moving 2kg bed frames over a distance of 5m (up to 24 beds lifted in succession)
  • pushing food distribution trolley (5-10kg) over 20m
  • filling/emptying bucket (0-15kg) and pushing mop
  • picking up items from the ground
  • assisting with toileting children
  • readying outdoor area
  • retrieving bottles and nappies stored at above shoulder height
  • feeding, assisting toddlers
  • assisting with arts and motor development
  • dressing children
  • lifting/carrying/pushing outdoor play equipment weighing more than 15kg
  • sitting, filing, phone calls and administration
  • climbing more than 4 steps (step ladder)

Suitable duties

  • goals must be clear, realistic and achievable
  • must have 'buy-in' from the worker
  • worker helps to set the goals, and must be answerable if goals are not met (this allows barriers to return to work to be identified at an early stage and obstacles overcome)
  • workers need to understand they have an obligation to participate in rehabilitation and return to work as per Section 232 of the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act).

Return to work suggestions

There are a wide range of suitable duties in childcare and these are sourced in consultation with the managers of the centre as often the centre rosters will need to be altered. Workers can be moved to a different age group where it may not be as physically demanding. Workers can also complete office-based duties, including greeting parents, assisting with queries, answering the phones and helping with art work within the centre. If the worker is a group leader, they may still be able to complete the programming for their room even if they are unable to work in the room due to their injury.


Occasionally, duties may be able to be sourced offsite if a worker is having difficulty with transport, medication or if the injury prevents them from returning to work. If suitable, the worker may be able to continue their studies whilst at home – for example, Certificate 3 in Childcare.

Host employment

In the event an employer is unable to provide suitable duties, a host placement may be required. If this is the case, the worker may be placed at a different employer in a graduated return to work plan until they're able to 'upgrade' back to his/her pre-injury role with their pre-injury employer.

WorkCover Queensland's Recover at Work program places injured workers in short term host employment with employers who have an established track record of successful return to work outcomes with their own workers.

More return to work resources