$27,000 fine for approved provider after child is burnt during playdough experience
An approved provider in Western Australia has been fined $27,000 for an incident which saw a child sustain second degree burns to her chest, her right forearm (which required skin grafting) and minor burns to her face during a playdough making activity.
The State Administrative Tribunal found that the approved provider breached Section 167(1) of the National Law for an offence involving protection of children from any harm and hazard likely to cause injury.
A Department of Communities investigation found that hot water had been splashed on the five-year-old girl during a playdough-making activity on 19 April this year. The child was treated in Perth Children’s Hospital, and is likely to face lifelong effects as a result of this incident, and the seriousness of this is reflected in the high penalty imposed, a Department spokesperson said.
“The dangers of using hot water near children are well known, and hot water should not be used in an activity at an education and care service in any circumstances,” Catherine Stoddart, Deputy Director General – Governance, Intelligence and Reform, Department of Communities said.
“There has been a spate of incidents across the sector involving children being burned by hot liquids or seriously injured, and the Department of Communities is putting all approved providers on notice that it may suspend services from operating if it finds that children have been put at serious risk.”
To mitigate the risk, she continued, staff should be trained in the service’s policies and procedures and risk assessment to ensure they are embedded in their service’s practices, and leaders and approved providers must have systems in place to monitor that staff understand and follow the service policies and procedures.
“The high penalty imposed by SAT demonstrates that approved providers are ultimately responsible for the actions of their educators and staff under the National Law.”
Simply having policies, Ms Stoddart continued, “is not sufficient.”
“Childcare providers must actively engage staff in thinking about the safety of the children and ensure that appropriate and robust practices are in place at their services at all times. Ongoing reviews should be conducted to ensure maintenance of practices and, where applicable, improvements must be made to ensure children are protected from harm and hazards at all times.”