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DUTY OF CARE IN THE PLAYGROUND

As a caregiver, whilst any child is under your supervision in a playground environment, common law imposes a duty of care upon you to provide adequate supervision and safe and suitable premises and equipment. In other words, you should take any reasonable steps to protect the child against risk or injury, which you should reasonably have foreseen.

YOUR STATUTORY OBLIGATIONS

In Queensland, the Workplace Health Safety Act 1995, Pt. 3 is to 'prevent death, injury or illness being caused by a workplace, by a relevant workplace area, by work activities, or by plant or substances for use at the workplace'. (See Section 7 (1) of the WHS Act. Note that playground equipment is an example of 'plant').

You can minimise the potential for an incident to occur if you:

  • Ensure that your playground complies with the relevant Australian Standards as a minimum
  • Incorporate methods of good practice in routine maintenance and inspections
  • Ensure effective maintenance is carried out
  • Keep well-documented records of all maintenance

SUPERVISOR'S AND CAREGIVER'S RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • To be aware of all foreseeable hazards in the playground for which you are responsible, and in any procedures which you or the children may carry out in the playground
  • You should inform the children of the hazards and the precautions to be taken to minimise the associated risk
  • Ensure that children carry out all the precautions
  • Be able to confidently carry out an emergency procedure in accordance with the policy and regulations of the supervisor or caregiver's organisation

(adapted from Planned Play Areas (1991), with permission of publisher Queensland Department of Education)

The design, construction and maintenance of your playground should meet the relevant Australian Standards. The Standards provide sample checklists, and the minimum requirements for design, construction and maintenance of playground equipment and surfacing. Accurate written records of all inspection and maintenance procedures are essential (See Info Sheet 7: Safe Maintenance). These records should be completed and maintained permanently because of the length of time that can elapse before a claim can be made against the owner of a playground.

In Queensland, child care services (home based or centre based) that provide child care for seven children or more are required to be licenced and meet the standards prescribed in the Child Care Act 2002 and Child Care Regulation 2003. These standards are administered by the Queensland Department of Communities and are intended to ensure the provision of quality care for children.

MORE DETAILED INFORMATION for playground owners and supervisors is included in the KIDSAFE PLAYSPACE RESOURCE KIT (available from Kidsafe Qld)

Department of Industrial Relations
Division of Workplace Health Safety
PH: 1300 369 915
 
Department of Communities
Child Care Information Service
PH: (07) 3224 4225 or Freecall 1800 637 711
Website: www.communities.qld.gov.au
 
Department of Education, Training and The Arts
30 Mary Street, Brisbane 4000
General Enquiries 13 13 04
 
Law Society Queensland Inc.
PH: (07) 3842 5888
 
Workplace Health and Safety Infoline: 1300 369 915

For copies of the Child Care Act 2002 and Child Care Regulation 2003 go to www.bookshop.qld.gov.au (The Queensland Government Bookshop)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 02:54