Childcare fined after 18 month old sustains burns to feet on hot day
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > Service fined $14,000 after child is allowed to play barefoot outside on 39 degree day

Service fined $14,000 after child is allowed to play barefoot outside on 39 degree day

by Freya Lucas

March 30, 2023
Image shows an adult hand, with dark nail polish, cradling the feet of a small child.

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in Western Australia has been fined $14,000 after an 18-month-old child was allowed to play barefoot outside on a 39 degree day, resulting in second degree burns to her feet. 


The penalty was comprised of: 


(i)     $13,000 for the contravention of section 167(1); and,


(ii)     $1,000 for the contravention of regulation 170(1).


The service is also required to pay the Department a contribution towards legal costs in the amount of $1,500.


The incident took place in mid-February 2022, with the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) finding that the service had contravened: 


  • Section 167(1) of the National Law by failing to ensure that every reasonable precaution was taken to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury; and, 
  • Regulation 170(1) of the National Regulations by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that nominated supervisors and staff members of, and volunteers at, the service follow the policies and procedures required under regulation 168.


The Department of Communities carried out an investigation after the incident and found staff at the centre had not been following sun safety policies, and that at the time of the incident the child was in the care of a staff member who had been working at the service for four months, but who had not received an induction. 


Other staff members were interviewed, and the Tribunal found that many were unable to recall sun safety procedures. During the investigation, the Department learnt that staff were not reminded or tested on the procedures, nor were there any visible signs about policies regarding hot weather around the centre.


The service was found to be genuinely remorseful about the incident, and has since implemented several measures to ensure sun safety compliance, including ensuring staff have read procedures, allowing staff to use hoses to cool down outdoor areas, and ensuring signs with procedures were displayed around the centre, and providing weekly updates about policies to workers.

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