Travel mug tea spill lands approved provider a $25,000 fine after 16 month old is burnt

Travel mug tea spill lands approved provider a $25,000 fine after 16 month old is burnt

by Freya Lucas

November 15, 2021

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider in Cooloongup, Western Australia, has been penalised $25,000 plus $2,000 in legal costs after a 16-month-old child received significant injuries when hot tea spilt on him.


The tea was in a travel mug that had been placed by an educator on top of a mini fridge, within the child’s reach. The child received treatment at Perth Children’s Hospital for second-degree burns to his forearm which then required multiple follow-up appointments.


This is the second incident in a short period of time in WA where a child has sustained burns from hot liquid at a childcare service, leading the Regulatory Authority to issue a stern warning to services. 


“The Department of Communities is putting all approved providers on notice that services may be suspended from operating if it is determined that children in their care have been put at serious risk,” said Catherine Stoddart, Deputy Director General – Governance, Intelligence and Reform at the Department of Communities


“Hazard mitigation is an integral part of childcare management – particularly the well-known dangers of the use of hot water where children are present,” she added, urging providers to review their practices in relation to staff using hot water and the presence of hot liquids in places accessible to children.


The State Administrative Tribunal subsequently found that the approved provider breached Section 167(1) of the National Law by failing to take all reasonable precautions to protect children from any hazards likely to cause injury.


“A thorough risk assessment should be undertaken to identify hazards that could result in injuries to children at the service. Just as importantly, staff must be made aware and trained in these policies and risk assessments,” Ms Stoddart said in closing.