20 April 2022

Child falls almost five metres at Canberra play centre

| Lottie Twyford
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Work safety

A child fell from a significant height at a play centre over the Easter long weekend. Photo: File.

A child has fallen almost five metres at a children’s play centre in Canberra over the Easter long weekend. The ACT’s safety regulator is investigating the incident.

WorkSafe ACT has confirmed the child suffered minor injuries, and the centre remains open with a prohibition notice on the equipment at the centre of the investigation.

Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius offered her sympathy to the child and their family after the incident.

“It is very distressing to know that a child was not kept safe from a significant fall. I wish a speedy recovery to the child and my best wishes to their family,” she said.

She said these incidents are more common than the community is aware of and can cause much more severe injuries to children than in this case.

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The commissioner said the regulator had been involved in several of these incidents in the last year alone, some of which resulted in broken bones.

WorkSafe ACT said while it’s aware that some businesses ask parents or carers to sign a waiver that states the parent or carer is responsible for the supervision and safety of the child using the centre, this is not correct under work health and safety laws.

Instead, “persons conducting a business or undertaking have a duty to ensure that workers and others at the workplace are not exposed to risks to their health and safety”.

The Commissioner urged parents not to assume play centres are safe simply because they are a business.

“Like any workplace, operators of children’s play centres must fulfil their WHS obligations. Falls from height, even if they have not resulted in injury, are notifiable incidents and must be reported to WorkSafe ACT,” she said.

Businesses have a duty to ensure that workers and others at the workplace are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, including children at the premises.

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The regulator has since issued a safety alert for commercial children’s play centres after several serious incidents regarding child safety have come to light.

It reminded businesses that it is the responsibility of the person conducting the business to make sure that all the staff members employed at the play centre have a valid Working with Vulnerable People registration and should have a suitably trained First Aid officer working on each shift.

Junior staff should also be adequately supervised by a person with the appropriate experience, training and knowledge of what to do in the event of a dangerous incident or emergency.

All equipment must be regularly checked to ensure it is working properly, and children should only use equipment that is age and ability appropriate.

Parents and carers can help by staying close to their child, especially when they’re trying something new or complicated and helping children try new playground equipment safely.

More to come.

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I’ve got to say, 5 meters and minor injuries, that there is saying something about the safety of the place. No fall should have happened, but it’s full of kids…

If it’s the same place I went to last week, the customers were well behaved, but they were maniacs and the staff did an awesome job!

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