Childcare centre fined after three toddlers burnt on hot floor
A childcare centre has been ordered to pay $17,000 after three toddlers suffered second-degree burns to their feet during an emergency drill.
Nido Early School conducted the evacuation drill in December last year when the temperature reached about 35 degrees.
At the time, 14 toddlers had just woken up from their afternoon naps and were not wearing shoes.
Two children were treated in a hospital burns ward, while a third was taken to a medical centre.
The State Administrative Tribunal found the facility failed to ensure every reasonable precaution was taken to protect the children in their care from any harm or hazard.
“The emergency evacuation route passed through a couple of outdoor yards,” the SAT said.
“A small section of each yard is exposed to direct sunlight, and the floor covering is rubberised soft fall and a synthetic grass.
“Several children appeared distressed when passing through the first yard, crying and picking up their feet.”
The supervisor immediately cancelled the drill and the children were brought back inside.
First aid was provided to the children’s blistered feet and parents were informed within half an hour.
The SAT noted the centre had a daily hazard document that instructed staff to hand test the turf in the morning to ensure it was not too hot.
There was an unwritten understanding that on warm afternoons an educator would again touch the ground, but no such check was conducted before calling the drill.
The centre had shown genuine remorse and contrition, and had taken extensive steps to ensure the children were well, the SAT said.
It also noted the centre had never previously had an incident referred to the tribunal and had fully co-operated with the Department of Communities.
The facility has since updated its policies and procedures, and the three burnt children remained enrolled following the incident.
In addition to the fine, the centre was ordered to pay $2000 in legal costs to the department.