The Department of Communities is reminding childcare service operators to ensure children are adequately protected from the sun and the affect it has on playground surfaces and equipment as the warmer months approach.

Think Childcare Services Pty Ltd trading Nido Early School QV1 was recently brought before the State Administrative Tribunal by the Department of Communities, with the Tribunal finding that the operator had breached Section 167(1) of the National Law for failure to protect from harm and hazard, imposing a penalty of $15,000 and $2,000 costs.

Three children sustained severe burns to their feet whilst taking part in an emergency evacuation fire drill at the service on 2 December last year. Two of the three children required hospital treatment.

The day of the incident saw a maximum temperature of 35.8°C in Perth.

The fire drill was done at 2.30pm and several children aged between 18 and 36 months commenced the fire drill not wearing shoes or socks.

A Department of Communities investigation found that the temperature of the outdoor ground covering at the premises, being predominantly synthetic lawn and soft fall material, may have contributed to the burns suffered by the children. 

Quotes from Brad Jolly, Assistant Director General, Commissioning and Sector Engagement 

“This is the second childcare service operator to be brought before the State Administrative Tribunal following a child being burnt by hot outdoor surfaces.

“Childcare service operators need to take this as a strong reminder that they must have clear procedures in place so that play surfaces, play equipment, and walkways are checked regularly on hot days to ensure children are not injured.

“Some materials used in outdoor matting and playground structures can get very hot, very quickly and can remain hot for some hours.

“This will be a focus of the Education and Care Regulatory Unit’s on-site compliance checks during the summer months.

“Childcare operators and staff must remain vigilant and alert during high-risk times of the year and take every reasonable precaution to mitigate the risks identified at their premises.

“This includes training all staff to ensure adequate supervision, thorough risk assessments and staff communication.”