Inspection program uncovers poor risk assessments and training in WA ECEC sites
An inspection program to explore safety issues in Western Australia’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) sites has revealed “a widespread lack of risk assessment and training in hazardous substances”.
The program toured government and private ECEC sites in metropolitan and regional areas of WA after WorkSafe identified a combination of factors, including the “significant growth” in the number of childcare centres in recent years, coupled with childcare being “a relatively new work area” and the fact that a close examination of safety in the ECEC context “had not been closely examined for some time”.
WorkSafe WA Director Sally North said “We were aware before this program that child care workers were often injured in incidents involving manual tasks, and it was important that we made sure they were aware of those risks.”
The area which attracted the most improvement notices was in relation to hazardous substances, such as cleaning products, as well as the anticipated notices issued in relation to manual tasks.
A total of 52 childcare centres were visited as part of the program, resulting in 161 improvement notices being issued by WorkSafe, along with 27 verbal directions.
A combined total of 79 notices were issued in regard to issues such as the assessment of hazardous substances, the provision of information and training with regard to hazardous substances and registers of hazardous substances. Of these notices, 13 notices referred to the testing of residual current devices (RCDs) and 12 to providing information and training on communicable diseases.
The main aim of the proactive inspection programs, Ms North said, is “to raise awareness and provide information to employers and employees to help them comply with workplace safety and health laws”.
Whilst WorkSafe WA said it is pleased to see that there were generally procedures in place to deal with manual task hazards, the areas of concern identified during the program has lead to a commitment to “continue monitoring the industry (sic.) to ensure that it improves its safety management in the other areas in which we found some concerns – for example hazardous substances, RCDs and training in communicable diseases.”
Further information on workplace safety and health can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or by visiting their website.