ECEC service fined after child is locked in hot shed, unnoticed by educators
A long day care service in the Perth suburb of Heathridge has been ordered to pay a $15,000 penalty, along with $2,000 in legal costs after a two year old was accidentally locked inside a metal shed for approximately 15 minutes.
The child’s absence was unnoticed by educators, and came to light only when the child’s older sibling was talking to another sibling of the group. The educator thought this was unusual, as typically all three children would find one another immediately once family grouping commenced.
At this point the educator began to search the service for the missing child, who by that point had been in the shed for 10 – 15 minutes (approx.) and was “visibly hot” given the shed being made from metal, and the 30 degree temperature on the day.
In investigating the incident the Department of Communities learnt that two experienced educators were present when the incident took place, along with one trainee educator.
The educator who discovered the child had been cleaning the nappy changing space, whilst the other educator was packing away toys. The ten children present at the time of the incident were all in the outside space with the trainee, who was engaged in sandpit play, during which time the two year old wandered into the shed.
The Department noted the unusual circumstances of the case, given that one educator, with the help of some children, had packed the toys into the shed before the incident occurred, checked that the shed was clear, and closed the shed door, in line with protocol.
It is believed that the child walked into the shed when the same educator opened the door again to place an additional toy inside, speaking with a fellow educator at the time, allowing the child to slip in unnoticed.
Assuming the shed was empty, the educator closed and locked the door with the child unfortunately inside.
“This action should serve as a warning about adequate supervision, to ensure children don’t gain unnoticed access to places where they could get overheated,” Executive Director, Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities Phil Payne said.
“In this incident the child was latched inside a metal shed on a 30-degree day which could have easily resulted in a different outcome. It’s the responsibility of the service providers to ensure their staff follow the supervision procedures and policies in place to prevent incidents like this from occurring.”
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