The Department of Communities is reminding childcare service operators to ensure children are adequately protected from the sun and the heating effect that it has on playground surfaces and equipment.

Success Early Learning Pty Limited 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 children from harm and hazard. It imposed a penalty of $14,500 and $2,000 costs.

The breach relates to an incident on 2 December last year, when a child under three years of age sustained burns to their foot whilst playing in the service’s outdoor area.

The maximum temperature in Perth on the day of the incident was 35.8°C.

The child was taken outside to play at approximately 12:15 pm with an educator and a small group of children.

The educator was attending to another child and did not observe how the injury occurred, but the child was not wearing shoes at the time.

The burns required medical treatment.

An investigation carried out by the Department of Communities found that the child’s burns may have been caused by the child coming into contact with the hot outdoor synthetic lawn, rubber soft-fall or metal play equipment, all of which were exposed to direct sunlight at the time of incident. 

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

 “This is an important reminder for childcare service operators that they must have clear procedures in place to ensure 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.”

Media contact: Steve Worner 0418 918 299