Tips to meet Quality Area 2 – Effective injury management

Active supervision and risk management best practice are key to maintaining a safe environment for children and responding when injuries occur.

The content of this article was updated on 22 April 2024.

A group of young children play on wooden play equipment outside, with different platforms and balance beams. Two educators are interacting with the children as they play. A group of young children play on wooden play equipment outside, with different platforms and balance beams. Two educators are interacting with the children as they play.
Image: It is important for educators to regularly discuss and reflect on injury management procedures to account for the dynamic risks in services.

Above all else, the aim of the National Quality Framework is to ensure that children have access to healthy and safe education and care environments, where they are supported to learn, develop and thrive. Effective injury management and active supervision (Quality Area 2) are critical to providing spaces where children are protected from risks of harm, feel safe and have a strong sense of wellbeing while engaging in play and learning.

Injury management – prevention is key

Under section 167 of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) (National Law), approved providers must ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury.

Implementing a thorough risk identification and management process (element 2.2.2 and 7.1.2) enables early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to effectively prepare for and minimise risks, creating a safer environment for children, educators and families. A well-considered risk assessment will also support staff to respond quickly when risks and hazards arise, lowering the likelihood of injuries occurring to children.

A service’s risk identification and minimisation process is unique to its own context. Approved providers must regularly review and evaluate their service’s risk identification process to ensure it remains effective in capturing all potential risks. Risks can and do change throughout the day, so providers also need to equip educators with the knowledge and skills to monitor and identify risks as they develop.

Although checklists summarise critical tasks and activities that must be regularly completed, educators should not be reliant or restricted by checklists. Instead, it’s important they are alert and responsive to changing conditions to ensure children’s safety throughout the day. An environment may present no concerns in the morning but may have a different risk rating in the afternoon if, for example, a dangerous snake enters the area.

Other changes that can affect risk over the day may include:

  • weather changes
  • new experience, such as water-based activities
  • activities that use small resources or materials, which may present risks for babies if they are brought into the area
  • placing artwork on windows, restricting visibility
  • puddles of water forming on the bathroom floor when children are washing their hands
  • redesigning play spaces, which may affect visibility, create trip hazards or restrict flow of movement
  • movement of children between play spaces
  • new educators, becoming familiar with service policies, procedures and routines.

Active supervision

Approved providers are responsible for ensuring that children are adequately supervised at all times children are in the care of their service (section 165 of the National Law). Approved providers should consider whether their supervision practices effectively contribute to preventing or minimising risks and injuries (element 2.2.1).

Active supervision allows educators to engage in experiences while scanning the environment to remain aware of where other children are and what they’re doing. The proactive strategy supports educators to pre-empt arising hazards or notice children’s risky behaviour and implement risk minimisation strategies to prevent injuries from occurring.

Examples of how approved providers can achieve this in practice include:

  • implementing supervision maps that highlight spaces where educators should be positioned in the environment to avoid areas being unsupervised
  • ensuring furniture positioning within the room does not create hidden spots or tight areas that restrict supervision or movement
  • clearly outlining how supervision is communicated between educators and maintained in service policies and procedures
  • facilitating professional development about adequate supervision and effective communication
  • when planning rosters, ensuring there are adequate educators to always support effective supervision of children.

Active supervision practices are unique to each service and should be documented in a service’s policies and procedures to ensure that adequate supervision is always maintained.

First aid kits

Despite all safeguards and risk management strategies, some injuries will and do occur in ECEC settings. If an injury does occur, a first aid kit will be essential for responding to the injury (standard 2.2). Approved providers are responsible for determining how many first aid kits are appropriate for the service and where to position them throughout the service premises.

Consideration should be given to:

  • the layout of the service
  • the size and contents of the first aid kits
  • whether the first aid kits are identifiable and readily accessible to adults in their chosen locations
  • the number and ages of children attending the service
  • excursions or regular outings that will require additional first aid kits to be taken off-site
  • any unique risks to children at the service due to geographic location.

These considerations will contribute to an approved provider’s compliance with regulation 89 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations).

Regular checks ensure that first aid kits remain stocked with appropriate provisions and that any out-of-date materials are replaced promptly. Services may also wish to consult with reputable organisations in first aid, such as St John Ambulance, to determine what contents would be most appropriate, considering the service’s unique environment and associated risks.

Notifications and reporting

Approved providers, service leaders and educators each play a role in minimising risks and safeguarding children from harm.

For approved providers, this involves ensuring that policies and procedures relating to incidents, injury, trauma and illness are in place (regulation 168) and are followed by staff (regulation 170). They must also adhere to relevant record-keeping (regulation 87) and reporting requirements.

Under the National Law and Regulations, approved providers are required to notify the Regulatory Authority of any serious incident, complaint and/or circumstance that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children attending their service (section 174). In NSW, the Department of Education is the regulatory authority (NSW Regulatory Authority) for the ECEC sector.

Prescribed timeframes apply for notifying the NSW Regulatory Authority (regulation 176(2)). Visit ACECQA’s Reporting requirements about children page for further information on your reporting obligations, including required timeframes.

Guidance on submitting a notification to the NSW Regulatory Authority, as well as information and documents to include, is available on our Notifications and reporting page.

Approved providers must also notify a parent/s if their child is involved in any incident, injury, trauma or illness while attending a service (regulation 86). They must inform the parent as soon as practical but no later than 24 hours after the event.

The regulatory authority’s ‘Engaging with and supporting families whose child is involved in a serious incident’ policy provides details about how it will respond and engage with families where further investigation is undertaken.

  • What processes are in place for educators to report identified hazards, and how confident are educators with actioning these processes?
  • Are risk identification processes regularly reviewed? Who is responsible for doing this?
  • How is educator feedback used to shape this review process?
  • How do the service policies, procedures and philosophy promote effective injury management?
  • What opportunities are children given to participate in risk identification processes?
  • How are injury management processes and policies communicated to parents and families?
  • What induction processes are used at your service to guide educators on injury management?
  • Develop effective processes that regularly assess learning environments to locate any potential hazards.
  • Identify trends in injuries occurring at your service through a review of past injuries.
  • Review ACECQA’s Occasional paper 9: Serious incidents (injury, trauma or illness) (PDF 3.08 MB) that shows key trends in serious incidents. Compare these with any noticeable trends in your service.
  • Empower all educators to provide input and develop their skills in service risk assessments.
  • Evaluate supervision plans and policies to ensure adequate supervision is maintained, including during higher risk situations.
  • Structure learning experiences that encourage children to prepare for injuries and emergencies, as published in the Australian Red Cross’ RediPlan preparedness program – Early childhood.
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