A proactive inspection program looking at safety issues in WA’s child care centres has revealed a widespread lack of risk assessment and training in hazardous substances.
The program, which included both government and private childcare centres in metropolitan and regional areas of the State, was undertaken because child care was a relatively new work area and had not been closely examined for some time.
WorkSafe Director Sally North said there had been a significant growth in the number of child care centres over recent years, and safety issues needed to be reviewed.
“There are now a large number of child care centres, and we had not closely examined them for some time so we thought it was time to update our knowledge,” Ms 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.
“And although improvement notices were issued that related to manual tasks, the area that attracted the most notices was hazardous substances such as cleaning products.”
Inspectors visited a total of 52 child care centres as part of the program, issuing a total of 161 improvement notices and 27 verbal directions.
The highest number of notices – a combined total of 79 notices – were in regard to such issues as the assessment of hazardous substances, the provision of information and training with regard to hazardous substances and registers of hazardous substances.
A total of 13 of the notices issued referred to the testing of residual current devices (RCDs) and 12 to providing information and training on communicable diseases.
“The main aim of these proactive inspection programs is to raise awareness and provide information to employers and employees to help them comply with workplace safety and health laws,” Ms North said.
“The risk of injury from manual tasks was the main safety issue we wanted to look at, and it was pleasing to see that generally there were procedures in place to deal with this hazard.
“However, we plan to continue monitoring the industry 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.”