WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA) has issued 161 improvement notices and 27 verbal directions to childcare centres after inspections revealed a widespread lack of risk assessment and training in hazardous substances, among other issues. Fifty-two childcare centres were visited by WorkSafe WA inspectors last financial year as part of a proactive program to help improve compliance with work health and safety laws.
WorkSafe WA said childcare is a relatively new area of work which has had significant growth over recent years and has not been examined for some time. “We were aware before this program that childcare workers were often injured in incidents involving manual tasks and it was important that we made sure they were aware of those risks,” WorkSafe WA Director Sally North said.
While some improvement notices did relate to manual tasks, 79 notices went to issues regarding the assessment, provision of information and training around and registers of hazardous substances such as cleaning products, according to WorkSafe WA. Additionally, 13 notices related to residual current device (RCD) testing 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,” 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,” North concluded. The program is one of several others being undertaken by WorkSafe WA, including inspections into machine repair workplaces, service stations, commercial kitchens and schools.
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