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Do we have to supervise children visiting the workplace?

Q: We allow children of staff to be at our school during school holidays – but only when their parents are here. Should we allow these children to play on the playground equipment, use sporting facilities, etc, unsupervised?

A: As you may be aware, under section 19(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) (OSH Act) an employer has a duty of care to provide and maintain, as far as practicable, a safe working environment for workers, which includes employees, students and other visitors in the workplace, such as children.

While a child is visiting the school with their parent in the school holidays, you should take the following reasonably practicable steps to discharge the duty of care owed under the OSH Act, for example:

  1. Know whether the child has attended the school on any given day (a register can assist with this step).
  2. Ensure that the child is supervised during their visit (especially if playing on school equipment where risks may arise), and is aware of areas in the school where they are not permitted to visit (for example, the car park).
  3. Ensure that the child is not exposed to any risks to their health and safety, as far as is reasonably practicable.
  4. Ensure that the child is aware of the school’s emergency safety procedures.

Examples would be the location of fire exits and what to do in the instance that there is an emergency.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Children in the workplace for current advice.

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