Risk management in children's services
In June 2020, a series of webinars were delivered by Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) to support services in identifying and managing risk. By viewing this presentation, you will learn about:
- best practice risk management and assessments in early childhood education settings
- identifying hazards and risks
- customising a risk assessment for a service
- ensuring communication to stakeholders
- reviewing and updating risk assessments
- undertaking a COVID-19 risk assessment.
Good morning everybody, my name's Kerrie McGuire and welcome to Risk Management in Children's Services.
Before I begin I'd like to acknowledge the original custodians of the land. I'm in Leichardt, so I'd like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. I'd like to pay respect to Elders both past, present and emerging as I recognise that it's Aboriginal land that we're gathering and meeting on today.
As I said, my name's Kerrie McGuire and I'm from Community Early Learning Australia or CELA. And we've been contracted to deliver Risk Management in Children's Services. If you're not familiar with CELA, we're the peak body for Australia's early and middle childhood education sector. We're a member-based not for profit organisation and our mission is to amplify the value of early learning and believe that all children deserve quality early and middle childhood education and care. Also to recognise that this session has been funded through the New South Wales Department of Education's Early Childhood Education Directorate.
The first question is, there is a difference between a hazard and a risk, is that true or is that false? And some of these questions that I'm posting, I'm going to provide some answers throughout the session. So it is true there is a difference between a hazard and a risk. And we'll get clarification as we move through the session.
The next question, question number two, who has responsibility for identifying hazards, conducting and reviewing risk assessments. Is it A. The nominated supervisor? B. The nominated supervisor and director? Or is it C. Anyone who has a duty to care for those in the service? And it's C. Anyone who has a duty to care for those inside the service. Let's have a look at number three.
Risk assessments inform my decision making, practice, procedures and processes within the service. Is that true or false? The answer is true. Risk assessments inform my decision making, practices, procedures and processes within the service. We're going to get greater clarity in relation to this today. Let's have a look at number four.
And this is about your confidence. I am confident in formulating, implementing and reviewing risk assessments. Am I not confident, building confidence, or confident? And of course this is anonymous but it certainly sets intentions for today. For those of you that are building confidence, the intention through these sessions is to build that confidence. If you're not confident it's to give you clarity and confidence to begin the process of risk assessments. And for those of you that are confident, it's to affirm your current practices and enable you to make visible your questions, your decision making processes and the why behind the what and how of what you do. Let's have a look at number five.
I have completed a COVID-19 risk assessment at the service. Yes or no? So some of us have. A majority of you have and some haven't. And today we're going to do a general overview of risk assessments and the process of identifying hazards and conducting risk assessments. And then we are going to have a very specific focus around COVID-19 and create some clarity and understanding around a COVID-19 risk assessment. Let's have a look at the final question.
I'm aware of where to seek advice in relation to COVID-19 to inform and update my COVID-19 risk assessment. Am I unsure, need to know more or very sure I only access reliable sources? So thank you for once again your honest responses and I'll just share the results. And it's quite a mixture. And it's a diverse audience that we have today. And just to recognise that many of you are from different service types. We all have different levels of knowledge, experience and working practice. So today we've got lots of different people throughout the state. We've also got people from Occasional Care, Mobile Children's Services, Out of School Hours Care, Vacation Care Services Long Day Care, Preschools and Family Day Care. And remember what we talk about today is not prescriptive. Everything you do inside your service need to meet the context of your children, families, educators and communities. I will be drawing you into some legal frameworks but the next thing I would like to show you and invite you to have a look at are your online resources. Now the hand out, on your go-to webinar control panel, has a link to this online resource. It's called a Padlet link. And this is what it looks like.
Throughout the webinar I'll be drawing your attention to these particular resources. There are a couple of videos, some specific risk assessment resources, specific information for our Family Day Care and just to recognise that all of us are centre-based services except for Family Day Care because the education and care occurs inside the educators' home. There's information there to stay informed. There's still the COVID-19risk assessment which I'm going to use when we have the specific focus on COVID-19. And two articles to read on our Amplifier.
And this is educators communicating to other educators throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, how they are staying safe during COVID-19 with a specific service perspective. Now some of you might like to use your phones in relation to getting the Padlet. You can open up the camera function on your phone, hover over the QR code and that will open up a link to Padlet. Touch on the link to Padlet and that will take you directly through to the resource. Just be aware that some generations of Samsung and Apple phones, won't allow you to access the QR code through the camera function. Other phones such as Oppo phones also don't have this mechanism. However if you have a QR reader, you will be able to download the resource on your phone. Can't download the resource off your phone? Absolutely fine. Please let us know if either the QR code doesn't work or you can't access the handout on your go-to webinar control panel and your moderator will be able to directly send you through the Padlet link. But I'll be using this and drawing you into this information so don't worry if you're not able to access it on your telephone today.
So let's create some awareness around risk assessments. So why do we document them? Let's have a quick overview.
It's a communication tool. It enables us to communicate with all stakeholders not just what and how we do things but why we have certain practices, protocols, processes and procedures.
It shows our thought processes. And one thing to give you clarity today, risk assessments aren't just a product it's about engaging in the process of risk assessment.
It involves collaboration and input. And if we all have a duty to care for those inside the service then we all need to be involved in the process of identifying hazards, designing, implementing and reviewing risk assessments.
It's about compliance.
It defines roles and responsibilities. What's my role and what's my responsibility? And we'll see clarification around those roles and responsibilities, and remember inside your service, it has a different context about the line of reporting or the mechanisms of reporting within the service if you A. Identify hazard, B. You're doing your daily checklists or you’re evaluating or reviewing your risk assessments through different procedures that you might be conducting such as emergency and evacuation drills. And we'll talk more about this as we go through the session. It enables long and effective management of situations.
And it's also about continuous improvement. You know if things go wrong inside services. Accidents happen. But part of that continuous improvement process is to come back and review those incidents. Review the risk assessments, review the procedures, the protocols, the practices to lessen or mitigate further risks or chances of that incident occurring again. So it can be a part of our continuous improvement to ensure the health and safety of children, yourselves as educators and others that come into the service.
So the very first question I asked you on the poll. The difference between a hazard and a risk. Let's have a look at them. So a hazard. A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. For example a playground, playground equipment, a repetitive job practice such as nappy changing. For some of you where you pack down and pack up your environments such as Mobile Children's Services and some Outside School Hours Care Services. It might be other repetitive job tasks that you need to perform such as moving tables and chairs. Rearranging the space to accommodate the education and care.
So what's a risk?
Well a risk is the chance. Is it unlikely, possible, likely or almost certain that any hazard will actually cause harm to somebody? Not all hazards are almost certain that they will cause harm to somebody. Some may be unlikely. Some might be possible. Some hazards might be likely and some hazards might be almost certain. And this is the first step in that process. Identify the hazard and what's the risk or the likelihood of that hazard causing harm to somebody. So some of us might be feeling very confident about identifying hazards and understanding what a risk assessment process does in relation to that hazard. Others may not be so confident.
So consider the hazard, the potential to cause harm, the action or the exposure to the hazard and what's the likelihood or the probability of harm occurring due to exposure to the hazard. My apologies for those that have fear of flying and fear of spiders. And one thing that we need to be aware of, it's not a subjective thing, these things scare me therefore they have a likelihood or probability of causing harm. It's about a process of a risk assessment. And different hazards will look different in the context of your service. So some hazards if you're in a very rural and remote area, snakes are an absolute hazard. Where I am in Leichardt, the hazard doesn't exist and if it did exist, the likelihood of harm occurring because of a snake, very low. OK. So let's look at it again with visuals. If I show you a picture you remember 65% of it. If I tell you something you remember 10%. This is why it's useful to use visuals with your educator's, little animations, little movies that can reinforce the message and enable educators to have a clearer understanding around the identification of a hazard and a risk. And that builds competency in your educators.
And it enables them to understand their duties and responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of the children that they're working with but also their responsibilities to other co-workers in the work environment. So remember the ladder was a hazard. What do you think about this? When does the ladder become a risk. Well it's about the exposure to the ladder. And what do you think about this picture? Do you think that this exposure, what's the likelihood of that ladder causing harm.
Most of you said well it looks fairly severe, you're probably right. So we put some control measures around the use of the latter. So we identify that the ladder is a hazard then we put control measures in to eliminate or minimise the probability of harm occurring because of the ladder. This type of use of the ladder there's not many control measures between these two gentlemen who are obviously painting a wall up a very high flight of stairs. So you would say the likelihood is high and the consequence is probably going to be severe if something goes wrong. So what's a risk assessment then? Hazard, risk, risk assessment. Let's have a look at this. So a risk assessment involves considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard. So for example COVID-19, the exposure to that particular virus and the likelihood of it happening. A risk assessment can help you determine the following, how severe a risk is. Whether any existing control measures are effective -and this is the language I'm going to be using with you today- control measures, risk assessments, managing the risk.
What action should you take to control the risk and how urgently the action needs to be taken, and we'll go through a little bit of a practice and the process a little bit later on. So a risk assessment enables you to assess the likelihood of that hazard causing harm and the severity of that harm and to minimise and reduce that hazard or that risk of potential harm. What measures have we got in place to eliminate or reduce the consequences of that harm? This information has been taken from SafeWork Australia. So we have different types of risk assessments in our services. Now, emergency risk assessments are part of our legal framework - the Children's Services National Law and Regulations. We know that, under Regulation 97 in the Children's Services National Law and Regulations around emergency and evacuation procedures, that our risk assessment is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service. Now, emergency risk assessments are quite unique in nature because they're a bit more unpredictable and less controllable. Yes, we can do a risk assessment around fire, but we might not know when that fire might, could happen. So let's look at the different types of some emergency situations. And this list is not exhaustive. So some types of emergency situations, COVID-19.
An accident or serious injury to a child or staff member where medical attention or hospitalisation is required. A medical condition requiring medical attention or hospitalisation. And some of you are quite familiar with this. We have managing medical conditions in children. However, there may be other medical conditions that require medical attention or hospitalisation. And some services have identified these as part of their risk assessment or emergency situations because a lot of children have asthma or anaphylaxis medical conditions. So there's a higher opportunity or higher risk of that actually occurring. So a violent or potentially violent individual, and for some services, particularly Outside School Hours Care and mobile children's services don't necessarily work in custom-built services. They share spaces and there could be traffic, or foot traffic, coming from the outside where they can't control who comes on and off that site. Say, a hostage situation, a lost, missing, or unaccounted-for child. And thinking about these things, they have the potential to happen. It doesn't mean they happen all the time and they're a little bit more unpredictable and less controllable. A fatal accident involving a child, family member, or staff member at the service, a burst water main or pipe, fire, flood, cyclones, a big storm or a dust storm. So, once again, in your unique community context, what are some of the potential emergency situations? Blizzard, ice, atmospheric contaminant, a dangerous animal, insect, or reptile. As I said before, in Leichardt, I don't have snake danger. I might have more poisonous spiders. But if I go to a rural or remote area, the likelihood of that hazard existing is probably more prevalent than it would be in Leichardt. So the likelihood of that hazard causing harm becomes a little bit higher.
A bomb threat or a gas leak. You would probably think about some other emergency situations that are very unique to the context of your service. And most of you have done a risk assessment, an emergency risk assessment, around these types of emergency situations and under the regulations we are required to. So these type of emergency situations or emergency risk assessments are more dynamic in nature. So we often talk about these emergency situations or these emergency risk assessments. They're quite a dynamic risk assessment. Now, this is not a separate type of risk assessment. It's a definition in relation to why that emergency risk assessment is more dynamic in nature. So let's look at the definition of it. A dynamic risk assessment is the process of observing and identifying risks and hazard in the workplace that are difficult to predict due to changing conditions. And this is why you identify the situations that are relevant to you. They don't happen on a daily basis, but there's a potential that they could happen. But they are a bit more difficult to predict when and if they will happen. So steps should always be taken to reduce risk and eliminate hazards. And remember, it's done through the form of a risk assessment, and that's why we call them emergency risk assessments, because they're quite dynamic. We can't necessarily control the weather. We can't necessarily control someone coming on-site sometimes in different services that may cause harm to children. COVID-19, it's very changeable in its nature, even if you think about the messaging that's coming from the Commonwealth and from the state in relation to managing COVID-19. The risk assessment processes, if you think about them four months ago, the changes that have happened. So those emergency risk assessments are dynamic in nature because they're less predictable and less controllable.
So inside the service, we will attempt to put control measures to eliminate the consequence or the potential of that harm occurring inside the service from the hazard. So some risks are unpredictable as we've said and can only be assessed once they start to unfold. So if you think about COVID-19, six months ago or twelve months ago, we never heard of COVID-19. Now, we're very familiar with that particular virus. So, as it started to unfold, we have constructed our risk assessments to deal with that hazard as it's unfolded. It could even be under these types of conditions where you have the introduction of new equipment and activities. The children might be manipulating equipment for unintended purposes. And children will, because they are creative. So today is not really about the pedagogical aspect of risk assessment or risky play. What we're specifically talking about today is Quality Area 2, children's health and safety, understanding risk assessments, what they're for, and the process of risk assessments, knowing what a hazard is, and using those control measures to eliminate or reduce the consequence of that hazard causing harm. So who should be involved? Well, nominated supervisors, number one, because they have day-to-day responsibility of the education in care service under the Children's Services National Law and Regulation. Educators, because we all have a duty to care. And that's anyone who has a duty to care. So who else can or should be involved in the risk assessment? Think about children. And an interesting thing about being able to assess risk without understanding a process is that we don't get very good at assessing risk until, for females, you're about 24, and, for males, until they're about 27.
Now, the reason is there's this function in your brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is... your forehead just here. That's where your prefrontal cortex is. Now, that part of the brain doesn't really thicken and begin to form until children are about the age of 9 or 10. That final construction, that last 5% of the brain, happens for females when they're 24 and for males when they're 27. So involving children in risk assessments and the process of risk assessments enables them to understand the risks of engaging in an experience or an activity and to be able to understand their own competency when engaging in that risk and understanding when it's a hazard. And that hazard, without it being assessed, can potentially have the consequence of causing severe harm to them. So being involved in risk assessments, really supports the architecture of the brain, a bit of the architecture that hasn't really thickened and formed for children until you're 24, as female, or 27, as male. So involving children in risk assessments can be of great benefit to them, to their developmental growth. Consider who else should or can be involved. Can families be involved? How do we engage with them so that they understand the why behind the what and the how. For example, under the Children's Services National Law and Regulations, families have access to the service whenever required or whenever needed. Now, because of that hazard, COVID-19, and the risk of that potentially causing harm to people, we're putting a control measure where some of you have restricted the access of families coming into the service. Now, for some families, why, why can we, for the last four years, I've been coming to the service, why can't I now come into the service? So risk assessments enable educators to articulate the why behind that particular practice or protocol that's been introduced into the service. So think of your risk assessment as a useful tool. It's a tool to assess the risk of hazards. It's a communication tool. It helps educators articulate the why behind certain practices, procedures, and protocols that exist within the service. And they can communicate back to children, families, and other educators.
So who should be involved? Think about who is currently involved and who could be potentially involved. And what's the benefit for that involvement? And if we want to talk about a process of continuous improvement, engaging all stakeholders in these types of continuous improvement can be a benefit to the service as a whole. So let's look at the legal frameworks for risk assessments. So most or all of us are aware of the Children's Services National Law and Regulations. Let's look at some of the regulations that apply. So Regulation 97, emergency and evacuation procedures, and I read that out a little bit early on that a risk assessment is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service. That's those emergency situations and emergency risk assessment to identify what does the emergency evacuation procedure look like and what are the control measures to reduce or eliminate the harm being caused to all stakeholders inside the service. Regulation 100 to 102, risk assessments for excursions, and we'll touch on these as we move through the session. Regulation 103, premises, furniture, and equipment to be saved, plain and in good repair. So this might not be an emergency situation. So other risk assessments might be around things that are a little bit more predictable or that are a little bit more steady inside the service. So we may do risk assessments around the furniture and other equipment, but then what we do we put control measures around that to identify any hazards and risks. We put our control measures in and then we might be using, on a daily basis, a checklist.
The checklist can often be formed through the control measures. So on a daily basis, I might use my checklist and ensure that the furniture still remains in good repair, that it is safe, that the equipment is still safe, clean, and in good repair through the daily checklist. So, initially, you've done the hazard, identified a hazard, you put your risk assessment into place. From those control measures, you can design to a checklist. So on a daily basis, there's a responsibility or a duty to ensure that that premises, furniture, and equipment is in safe and good repair and that it's clean. And anything that goes outside of what the control measure tells you, that, "Hang on a second, we've looked at the equipment, and now there's a broken piece of wood on the bridge in the playground equipment." So we identify, mainly, that it is a hazard and we reported it immediately based on the checklist. And we'll talk more about this type of language. So regulation 115, the premises is designed to facilitate supervision and some of those supervision plans that some of you in out-of-school-hours care or mobile children's services might identify that, "Well, the premises is actually not designed, because we're on the grounds of the school, to facilitate that supervision." So the hazard is that children will leave the education and care service premises without us knowing because there are so many entrances and exits in and out of the school potentially at ten past three. So one of the control measures is effective supervision at those key points of exit and entry. So if the premises can't do it, then we put control measures in to eliminate the risk of children leaving the education and care service. Then we've got required policies. So regulation 168, and this one is 2H, providing a child-safe environment, identifying hazards, the potential to cause harm, and risk assessing whether that potential hazard, what's the likelihood of that harm, of that hazard causing harm, to the child or others inside the service. And then putting control measures in place to eliminate or reduce the consequence of harm. Then we've got sections of the law. Section 165, it's an offence to inadequately supervise children. And section 167, there's an offence relating to the protection of children from harm and hazards. So this is the legal framework under which we work. There's also another piece of legislation, the Workplace Health and Safety Act of 2011. And this, specifically, states clearly around the consultation of everybody who has a duty to care to be consulted with in relation to those risk assessments. So there is consultation, cooperation, and coordination between duty holders, a duty to consult with other duty holders. And division 2, consultation with workers. There's a duty to consult with everybody inside the service that's working. Now, what's the nature of your consultation? Is it on a daily basis through the checklist where educators are working through a checklist and they're ensuring they're dating, putting a time and their signature next to that daily checklist? Is it happening regularly in staff meetings? Are all educators aware of the nature of the consultation around this? Because this ensures the health and safety of children. But also, there's a duty of care in relation to each other. And when is that consultation required? So, is it required on a daily basis? Is required quarterly when we actually conduct our emergency and evacuation procedures? Either, whenever the educator identifies a hazard in the environment. So, once again, it's unique to the context of your service, but it does sit in legislation that there is a duty to consult with workers. How do you make that visible? Consider your current practices right now about how you make this consultation process visible. And how aware are educators that they should be being consulted? Because there may need to be a change of a control measure, such as a procedure. Maybe the procedure needs to be amended because that procedure as a control measure is actually not fully eliminating that hazard.
So, let's talk about the process of risk assessments.
The following information has been taken from your Padlet. And on your screen, I'm going to show this to you now. This is this here, the ACECQA risk assessment resource.
I'm going to take you through this process and then we're going to practice. So, just a quick overview. Identify, assess, manage, evaluate, review. This is a useful document for you to download. Put it up on the wall, put it up in the staff room, use it in a staff meeting. At the end of the document, I'm going to go through your risk matrix, identified here as well as the control measures. But what's useful about this? There are some other examples or little scenarios to work through with your educators. And remember, we will go through this process. If we have to review an incident, accident, brawl or illness that's occurred inside the service, and that has become a serious incident, and we need to come back and review these types of mechanisms as far as our risk assessments go. So, consider downloading and using this as a useful tool. So, the first step, identify. Identify the hazard or the potential hazard. Think about what have been some hazards inside the service. The potential to cause harm. And if it has the potential, what's the likelihood of that hazard causing harm to someone? And how severe is the consequence of that harm? Could it be just a trip or could it be an amputation? So, you can see the severity of the consequence because of the hazard. And what's the likelihood of that happening? The next step, assess. Once you've identified the hazard, assess the risk of harm or the potential harm. So, these types of questions: how likely is it to happen? How often might it happen? And if it happens, what are the consequences? And this is where your risk matrix is really important.
I'm going to take you into the Padlet, but because I think it's important to spend a little bit of time on this. And this is where sometimes educators might not be clear about this risk matrix.
And it's useful that it's color-coded so it gives us an understanding. So, you can work out the importance and priority prior to managing the risk. So, will this happen? Is it unlikely, possible, likely, almost certain? If it happens, what are the consequences? If it's a minor risk, it's unlikely to cause long-term problems. So, we just fix it. So, unlikely is low, possible is low, likely is moderate, and almost certainly is moderate. So, a moderate risk. Complete a risk assessment and go ahead if the risk is worth accepting. And we sometimes do this in children's risk and play. Playground equipment, because we can't eliminate everything.
So, will this happen? And if it happens, what will be the risk? What are the consequences? Unlikely, moderate, possible, high, likely, high, almost certain, high. Now, if it's a significant risk, even if it's unlikely, the consequences of harm is high. And if we look at possible likely almost certain, it's extreme. So, this type of significant risk needs careful planning and consideration before going ahead. It involves others in decision-making, follow policy guidance and practice, and identified roles and responsibilities. So, remember the type of risk will determine how likely and how severe the consequence is in relation to undertaking that risk. Sometimes if we don't identify the hazard and we don't identify 'will this happen', the likelihood of that happening, and the consequence of that, sometimes there are unintended consequences. Something that we haven't identified is actually of extreme likelihood that it will cause significant harm to that child or that educator. So, it's about making things visible through a process of a risk assessment. So, the next thing we need to do is manage, and there are control measures. So, let's go back to the PowerPoint and focus a little bit on control measures, and control measures are important. And once again, what they will do, they enable you to manage those risks in the unique context of your service. So, we eliminate, where possible, or minimise the impact using control measures. And this is what it looks like here, and I'll take you back into that particular handout. So, here are the hierarchies of control.
So, level one is elimination. Remove the hazard or change the practice. Then we can go to level two. So, if elimination is not possible, then we do substitution. So, replace heavy items with those that are lighter, smaller, and easier to handle. Replace damaged equipment with new equipment. And this is interesting to COVID-19: isolation. Isolate unwell children from the whole group. Barricade off a wet floor until it dries to avoid a slip hazard. And you might also use signage. Engineering: using ergonomic carts with a higher base. Why? To reduce manual handling and back injuries for educators. Provide adult-sized chairs for educators. And then we go to level three: administrative. Rotate educators between different tasks to avoid repetitive strain. Arrange workflows to avoid peak physical and mental demands towards the end of the shift. It might also be in the form of a policy and procedure. So, a supervision plan sets out the procedures to adequately supervise children. Specifically, if we identify that "I'm on a school grounds and I can't necessarily engineer the gates to have them close at a specific time. However, what I will do, there will be specific procedures, control measures, put into place to identify or reduce the hazard of the children leaving the education and care service". Other control measures might be that educators wear high visibility vests so it's very visible to all stakeholders inside the actual playground area. So, children know where to go and families need to know who they can go and ask if they're looking for their child. And then we've got personal protective equipment. So, for you, it might be using gloves for all hygiene issues, or it could be wearing closed-in shoes to avoid injury, and wear hats and sunscreen at site. And if we think about some creams and sunburn and hats and shoes, we've got a sun protection policy and procedure. So, those procedures inform us about the control measure to eliminate that hazard of the sun and the risk of getting sunburned and the risk of potentially getting heatstroke. So, these control measures are identified in procedures. Control measure: no hat, no play. But there's a reason why, because the sun can be a hazard. And the risks of that sun exposure? Sunburn, blisters, skin cancer. Heat exhaustion. So, even in these types of terms, we can consider these hierarchies of control. Now, workplace health and safety would say, eliminate at all costs where possible. And, you know, within the context of your service, elimination might not be possible. So, we have to look at other control measures to ensure the health and safety of children and your health and safety inside the service.
So, let's look at what we do next. So, we've managed it, now we need to evaluate it. So, evaluate the current risk or potential harm. How well is it eliminated or managed? If not, look at an alternative control measure. Is this the best possible outcome? So, if there's a hazard in the playground and at the moment we can't engineer it, so we will do other control measures. Is there an opportunity to come back and engineer that potential hazard, that hazard, so it no longer presents itself as a hazard? If we can't engineer it, there will need to be other control measures we put into place. And I'll make that clear when we do a little bit of a practice around some playground equipment in a minute. So, evaluate. And what's really important is also reviewing. Ongoing review and monitoring of the risk or potential harm to ensure the risk remains low. So, your control measures that you've put into place are ensuring that the risks remain low. And when we say "the risks remain low", that the consequences of harm are also low and the likelihood of it happening are also low. They're more unlikely to happen. So, educators are vigilant in scanning and assessing the risks within the service and considering those daily safety checklists. So, at the beginning of a shift or the beginning of work, whatever sector or service type that you're in, the checklist has come from the control measures.
It might even be, if it's a procedural control measure, that we ensure that we discuss it and verbally talk about, procedurally, these are the things that you need to be aware of. If they're not doing the checklist, how do I make these reviews and those checklists visible? There's a reason why we do it: it's a mechanism. For example, the playground equipment, it has shared usage and you can't control who comes in and off that playground. So, each day when your children have access to it, that you're reviewing your control measures through a daily checklist to ensure that that playground equipment is safe each day for the child to engage in. It could be regular workplace health and safety inspections.
And it could be a regular topic in team meetings. And many of you are currently doing this. There's staff meetings that occur. There's daily checklists that happen. And remember, it's in the unique context of your service.
So, let's practice. Let's have a look at the playground. Now, specifically, I'm going to ask you to look at the playground equipment and I want you to consider the risk assessment process. So, the first step is identifying the hazard. Now, for some of us we go "Right, the playground equipment. That's what I've been asked to do. So, I'm going to identify the hazards on the playground equipment". Now the playground equipment itself is a hazard. But, can we eliminate it and go, "well, children can't play on that"? So, we're going to do a risk assessment. Because we want the children to play on the playground equipment. But, what's the likelihood of a risk occurring? What's the probability of harm occurring? And through a risk assessment, we can identify any risks from that hazard and put control measures in to eliminate or reduce the harm that's associated with engaging with that playground equipment. Is the risk worth undertaking? So, let's identify the risks. So, the second step is "assess". So, falls, OK? So, we brainstorm, there could be falls. Well, is it unlikely, possible, likely, or almost certain? Trips: is that unlikely, possible, likely, or almost certain? Unintended use of the playground. Unlikely, possible, likely, almost certain. Now, it might be unlikely. However, we make that visible. For example, an unintended use of the surrounds of the playground equipment within the fence line could mean that children are playing a game of tag or tig-chaseys around the outside of the playground. Now, that might be something that doesn't always happen, but if it did happen and they did use the playground to play tig-chaseys, what is the risk?
Is it likely, unlikely, almost certain, that there is a consequence, a harm that can occur to the children or a child because of that game? Falls: well, how likely are they? And this is where you might consider for example, the age and competency of children. So, falls might not necessarily happen for example in this playground which is designed for five to 12 year olds. It's probably not so much for the 12 year olds than it might be for the five-year-olds. The playground equipment in the long daycare service, for example for the two year olds, that might present as a higher risk because of their skills and their competencies compared to a five-year-old. So, once again, it's in the context of your service. You just can't take somebody else's risk assessment and use it. It's very much in your context. So, assess the risk. What's the likelihood of harm happening? Unlikely, possible, likely, almost certain. And what are the consequences? So, is it a minor risk, a moderate risk, or a significant risk?
Trips: a minor risk, a moderate risk, or a significant risk? An unintended use of the playground: is it a minor risk, a moderate risk, or a significant risk? Now, if you go through the assessment, everything is a significant risk because of the nature of the playground equipment, then we might eliminate temporarily the playground equipment until we can assure that our risk assessment reduces the risk and reduces the level of consequence of harm for the child or the children engaging in that. We did have a playground at our service that the children identified as the playground of death. And the reason why they identified that is that there were very large rocks and boulders that were in the playground equipment. Assessing that risk, identifying the risk and the consequences for engaging that risk was very, very high, but we couldn't engineer it because the rocks were cemented into the playground. So, we had to put other control measures in. But you can hear the children had already identified the playground as the playground of death because of the level of incidents that were occurring. So, risk assessments reduce the likelihood and reduce the consequence of harm happening. So, then we put in our control measures. What will be the control measures? Well, if it's "eliminate", children don't get to play on the playground equipment. But if, you know, you assess the risk and it's, you know, possible, and it's a minor risk, let's keep the risk low. So, procedurally, we'll talk about supervision. If the risk is high, do we need more than one educator on the playground equipment to support children in the engagement of the playground equipment? So, it can be fixed equipment, it can even be an activity or an experience that children are engaging with, specifically dangerous tools. We'll go through a risk assessment.
If everything we do that we cannot eliminate, or at least reduce the risk of that hazard causing harm, then we don't do it. However, if we can put controls in place to lower the likelihood of that happening and lower the consequence of occurring, then we're going to engage in it, and we'll use those control measures, we'll communicate those to each other as educators, and we'll also communicate that to the children around control measures. So, for this playground equipment, can it be engineering? Is it administrative, such as policies, procedures, and supervision plans? Is it personal protective equipment? So, children need to keep their shoes on. And if they're going to wear their shoes, they may need to be close-toed shoes. Then we come back and we evaluate at the end of that particular activity on the playground equipment. It's the ongoing risk assessment.
And then prior to each day, or prior to each session that we do a daily checklist, are there hazards that are now in that playground equipment that have a likelihood to cause harm and consequences of a significant risk? Can we reduce those immediately or temporarily, for the day, we have to eliminate the playground equipment use because it actually needs engineering. So, daily checklists come from those control measures, and there is a duty to go through those even though you might have done one risk assessment, we need to keep reviewing it. It's different to the emergency risk assessment because there may be situations that we can't plan for. These types of things we can eliminate or reduce through our daily checklists. So, there's a bit of a difference. So, let's stop for a second. Some of you have got fantastic hawk eyes. Can you identify that hazard? So, we've identified the playground equipment. But cast your minds away from the playground equipment. Do you identify any other hazards?
And this is why it's important for educators to be involved in risk assessments. So, there's no sand in the playground equipment, this particular picture I've got up at the moment. So, let's have a look. Hmm, fence palings. The fence, I'm going to highlight these two aspects here, very good. Here and here. OK, so, you can see first, the first one that I've showed you is the exposed brick work. Not necessarily the paling fence, it's actually this exposed brick work. So, what is the likelihood of trips, falls, and unintended use? And what's the risk consequence of a trip? So, if children are using the surrounding playground equipment to play a game of tig-chaseys and they trip, what's the likelihood of the trip happening, and then the consequences of falling against this particular brick work? So, there's another hazard. The other hazard is this gap under the fence. Now, for your nine-year-old, that's probably not going to be an issue but, you know, kids can jump over the fence. So, once again, supervision and active supervision. But for your little ones, if they can crawl under the fence, the other hazard is the car park. So, they've gone. This has presented a hazard because they can enter into another area where there's a further hazard. So, what do we do? Can we engineer this so we can put our control measures into place? Well, what we need to do, we need to ensure there isn't a gap. We may need to engineer the brick work, so, that potential for that risk consequence, that consequence of harm happening, is greater reduced.
Now, if I can't engineer it, what are going to be some of the other control measures that you're going to put into place to reduce the likelihood of that hazard happening and the consequence of that hazard causing the harm? So, this is very specific. So, sometimes when a game of tig-chaseys has happened, the educators are very aware of the other hazards and they might direct children, they might eliminate the tig-chaseys and recommend that go onto a grass area that actually does exist just outside that playground equipment. Reminding children that it's not all running around, that it's actually for playing on the playground equipment. And the only way that I can have that happening in that control measure is by a procedure or a protocol or a supervision plan that's come from the risk assessment. Why do I have to do this? Well, because this playground represents three hazards, and these are our control measures to reduce the likelihood of that hazard being a harm to children, and it reduces the consequence of the level of harm occurring to that child or children.
So, let's consider what we need to think about. So, consider the following. Who will you collaborate with? Who are your key stakeholders? Who else in the community has the knowledge and skills to ensure your risk assessments are informed and current?
What will the risk assessments look like? What template will you use? Do you need a template? And the template needs to be useful as far as educators being able to engage in the process of risk assessing. So, we might use risk assessment templates because it determines what our control measures are going to be, the what and the how behind why we're doing it. So, if you're not going to use the template, what makes the risk assessment an understandable process that everyone can follow? And if the template is too confusing and complex, then we need to review what the template is being used for. It should be a useful tool, a tool that engages and invites conversation. It creates an awareness around responsibilities. I do the daily checklist because it's a way of reviewing the risk assessment that's already been conducted prior.
So, how prescriptive does it need to be? So, we know in the Children's Services National Law and Regulations, it doesn't say that you need to use specific template, but you need to consider, what do you want the template to do? So, for you educators, what do we need for the educators? What does it need to look like for children or families? So, if we want to engage children in risk assessments, does it need to be more visual? Does it need to come through a conversation? How do you communicate your concurrent control measures and communicate the why behind that particular practice, process, protocol, or procedure, such as the restrictions of families coming into the service? Why is that happening? Why do you have that control measure? How has that been communicated? So, how will you stay updated and ensure that you're accessing reliable sources such as government agencies, official sources? So, let's have a look at your Padlet. I'm going to draw you into where we can access information and reliable sources. So, first and foremost, I've given you specific information around COVID-19. Because it's changeable and can sometimes be less predictable around your control measures because things might change and it's a rapidly evolving situation, COVID-19, that we stay up to date. So, things like this particular website.
ECED. So, preparing your service and preventing the spread. So, these are recommendations, and then you risk-assess and you consider, can those recommendations be part of our control measures? Is it realistic for us to do that? Does that support the children and families, and does it ensure children's health and safety? Other websites. I'll show you the other ECED one as well. Here, you can see there's frequently asked questions. And because it's a rapidly evolving situation, you can text-subscribe to this particular phone number. So, you can be informed about critical updates and any updates to the frequently asked questions. So, these are good sources of information. Consider the New South Wales Government, specifically around COVID-19. So, what you need to know, and here is a specific focus around education, and I'm going to click on this.
Schools and Childcare For You. So, there's information there to support current and updated knowledge.
The Commonwealth Government.
This one was last updated on 24 June. So, current status, symptoms, stopping the spread, if you're concerned, advice for people most at risk, resources. So, make sure you're accessing your reliable resources to inform you in relation to COVID-19. You might be using other reliable sources depending on the hazard that's inside the service. Staying Safe and Childcare for Early Childhood Services. And for those that are in vacation care services, ACECQA has some information specifically for vacation care. So, your online resource gives you access and information to stay up to date.
So, how often will you review the risk assessment? Is it because of COVID-19, there's been changes to recommendations, therefore, there are changes to those control measures? Is it daily through checklists? Are the emergency risk assessments, are they done quarterly? For example, when you might do your emergency evacuation rehearsals, is it after an incident has actually occurred that you can review these? It's not prescribed how often you review the risk assessments, but consider, when do you? What's important for your service? So, most of you are doing those daily checklists, and it could even be for you in long daycare where you've got a mixture of age groups, you've got your babies and you've got your three to five-year-olds. So, even services, reviewing the outside or doing a quick checklist on the outside, because the three to five-year-olds have been in the outside space, and now the babies are coming out into that space. Let's do our checklist again, let's make sure we've got our control measures back in place and identify any new hazards that have been introduced because potentially, something's been left out that's not age-appropriate for babies. So, how dynamic does it need to be? How much change needs to happen? So, consider the emergency risk assessments, the COVID-19 risk assessment because of the changing recommendations, from the daily things that we do because there may be things that are predictable in the five-year environment inside the service, but we just ensure these control measures are working through that daily checklist. And, is there a hazard that we haven't identified that now exists? Something that is quite predictable and because we can't eliminate or reduce the risk or the likelihood of harm occurring through that hazard, that we might not be able to access that particular experience, activity or equipment for that day or for a week until we can actually reduce or minimise the risk of harm occurring, OK? Remember, that's your context. It is up to you as the service to determine that. And remember, you know your service best of all. Risk assessments inform your decision making. External sources can ensure we've got the most current information to ensure that those control measures are based on current information. Not just because we think and we feel, it's because this decision has been made, we've identified a hazard, we're going to reduce the risk of that hazard causing harm, and these are going to be our control measures. And communicating through the risk assessment is of great benefit for educators to be able to communicate that to children and families. So, how often? And remember, once again, it's not a prescribed matter.
It doesn't say to you that you need to review these every three months, that is determined by you. The hazard, the level of educator and their experience, where do I need to engage the less experienced educators so they're aware of these risk assessments, they're aware of the daily checklist, they're aware of their responsibilities? So, some people might respond and go... Do they need to sign things? Well, in the staff meetings, we've got it minuted. Is it something with the daily checklist that different educators do it on different days but they've got their name and their signature and the date that they've done the daily checklist? If educators aren't, what's the barrier? What's getting in their way? Is it a lack of understanding about what the daily checklist is supposed to do? Is it a lack of understanding about, what do I do with the risk assessment - if I do see a hazard, what am I supposed to do? So, it's making it visible to processes to ensure the health and safety of children and each other inside the service. You see something, say something. Do something if you can. And if not, let's go back through those risk assessments and identify what we can or should be doing to ensure the health and safety of all stakeholders inside the service, 'cause it's our duty to care. So, consider the following: How will you communicate the risk assessment? Who needs to be informed? So, families. So, how do you communicate this currently?
So, I think about COVID. Have we communicated the restricted access to families? Have we communicated the increased hygiene procedures or practices inside the service? Has it been verbally, visually through, say your social media. Through policies and procedures, the parent handbook, role modelling of educators, educators modelling the practice, being the change that's expected, because of the risk assessment. If they understand why, then they can articulate the what and the how to their educators and to other stakeholders. Children and families. Consider how you do communicate those COVID-19 risk assessments to families and other stakeholders. Think about how you implement changes in practice as a result of conducting those risk assessments. And sometimes, there needs to be a change of practice, procedure, protocol, or a different process that needs to happen inside the service because of the hazard and the risk assessment that you've done against that hazard. So, things can change quite quickly. So, how do we ensure staff and educators are aware and are implementing the control measures? Well, it should be being modelled. It should be observable practice. Educators need to be able to articulate why, what, and how. Children will model off the educators. For example, if the hazard is the sun and an educator is directing children to put on their hats, but the educator doesn't model that, then what's the expectation? So, the modelling can be your very good practice to communicate what's happening inside the service and why it's important. So, one word of caution about excursion risk assessments. Other risk assessments are very much in the context of your service and meet the needs of your service and service community. Just be mindful that excursion risk assessments have prescribed matters inside of them. And you might ensure that you use an excursion risk assessment such as ACECQA's because they're quite detailed and look a little bit different to our emergency risk assessments and other daily risk assessments that we may be conducting inside the service.
Many of you are very familiar with this particular risk management, but I'll put that on your screen at the moment so you are all aware of it. And remember this one, excursion details, excursion checklist, the risk assessment, who the plan has been prepared for, and once again, a risk matrix. So, how clear are educators in relation to this? It might be the nominated supervisor that's in charge of preparing this one. But remember, educators are going on the excursion as well. Is this risk management plan accurate? And has it got controls in place that actually meet or manage the hazard on that excursion? And remember, often on excursions, you're going into environments that are shared spaces. So, the risk assessment that you may have done, remember when we're going there, we also need to be doing - it's also quite dynamic. Is there anything else that we need to be aware of when we're actually engaging in the excursion? But remember, we need to give this to families because they're giving authorisation for their child to participate in the excursion. So, we're drawing family's attention into where they're going and how you've eliminated any hazards through this risk assessment to ensure their health and safety on the excursion. And some families want to know, what are the risks of going on an excursion? Have you eliminated or put control measures in place about that excursion? And then from that information they'll give authorisation or not. So, just a word of caution, your excursion risk management plans can sometimes be very useful because of the prescribed matters that are contained in those. Others are a little bit more freestyle and freehand, but remember, how does it support the educator?
How does it support the why, the what, and the how? Is the risk assessment process clear? And if your template is not clear, redesign the template to support the process. So, let's have a look at COVID-19.
Now, the reason this might be called an emergency risk assessment is because it's unpredictable in nature. It can sometimes be less controllable. So, considering what we put into place around this particular emergency risk assessment with the COVID-19 focus.
On your screen is the CELA COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool. And I'm going to take you through the headings to create an awareness around what that risk assessment process can look like in relation to COVID-19. Remember, the tool is not prescriptive. It should be adapted to a service as a unique context, and there should be control strategies relevant to your service. So, this gives guidance, but it's not prescriptive. A useful tool for those of you that don't have a COVID-19 risk assessment or control measures in place and for those of you that have already got a COVID-19 risk assessment to come back and review it against this one. Yours might be better, it might need tweaking.
I'm taking you back into the Padlet and I'm going to expand this particular risk assessment tool.
Now, the changing nature of COVID-19 makes this a potential emergency situation 'cause remember, the emergency situation is something that's less predictable and less controllable. Don't always put it into the context of emergency and evacuation. So, let's have a look at a couple of simple ones. If I scroll down, there may be a slight delay on your screen.
So, let's have a look at this one. Potential emergency situation. Planned excursions expose visitors, staff, and children to COVID-19. The hazards are external surfaces and others outside of the service may be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Visitors, staff, or children can come into contact with COVID-19. What's the likelihood? It's possible, and the risk rating is severe. If I step outside of the service, my normal control measures can't be put into place. So, the control strategy is that all planned activities are cancelled or postponed outside the service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, from this particular risk assessment, well, we have got control measures around COVID-19 inside the service, but does that hazard of COVID-19, does the risk increase because I step outside of the service and we can't put our usual control measures in place? And if the risk rating is severe and the likelihood is possible, then we go, well, we're going to actually eliminate it. We're actually going to say that we're not going to step outside the service for excursions. Now, if we have an internal event where somebody comes inside the service and you decide to do that, somebody coming in, you need to have control strategies around that. So, a person coming into the premises, they may be incubating COVID-19 and they're asymptomatic, not showing any signs or symptoms. So, you might go, well, no, we're not going to allow that to happen because the risk is too high. But if you do what will be the control measures that you are going to put in place, that reduces the likelihood and reduces the risk rating. Or the consequence of somebody catching COVID-19 because of the internal event.
There is another one in relation to COVID-19, and this one has also changed. But remember, it might change again, hence why emergency situations, because it's less predictable, it's a rapidly evolving situation. So, for example, the emergency situation that there are supply chain issues with food and menu requirements cannot be met. So, there is a lack of food supply to adequately meet the nutritional needs of children attending the service. Now, that might not be your hazard, but this supply chain issue, it could be other things such as access to clean equipment or hand sanitizer. So, what's the risk for that? What's the likelihood of that happening and what's the risk rating? But in this potential one in relation to the supply food chain, the service reaches the education and care services' national law and regulations, and you can't make the nutritional recommendations across the menu. The likelihood was possible, and about two months ago, the risk or the likelihood was more than possible, and the risk rating would have been more severe. Now, we've amended this because the supply chain issue has changed. But there might be other control strategies in place if this changes again. So, the health and safety and wellbeing of children remain a priority. You may consider alternatives such as sandwiches instead of hot meals. But once again, it's the context of your service. You might not be providing food. The service will always consider other ways to ensure children have nutritional supply of food, such as family supplying their child's food each day. Or the service will contact the regulatory authority if they have no access to essential supplies.
Other risks might be...
So considering this one, a child or staff member at the service is diagnosed with COVID-19. So, the hazard is a potential to infect others in the service. The risks are identified here. Surfaces are contaminated. And then the other person touches their face, their nose or their mouth. Visitors come in contact with the COVID-19 virus. There is insufficient communication with health authorities and others at the service and the infected persons are allowed back to the service without clearance. So, these risks can happen. What's the likelihood and what's the risk rating? Well, that's severe. So, there are control strategies in place to manage these potential risks. It is recommended that children and staff be vaccinated [influenza]. It's a recommendation. It might be your control measure or it might not be. Staff or children infected will stay away from the service and seek immediate medical attention. Staff and families are informed that if they have symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19, that they inform the service by phone or email. So, you can see the control strategies are a changing practice or procedure, and we need to communicate this to families. How do we make this evident? How do we make this visible to families around the risks from that potential hazard of the potential of infection to others inside the service? So, staff or children infected will stay away from the service until the public health authority confirms it's safe to return.
It could be the service will follow existing protocols for cleaning and disinfection for outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, gastroenteritis outbreaks, and follow the following steps. And this is around the cleaning of those surfaces.
So, consider this particular one. A visitor, child, or staff member has a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection, coarse cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, while at the service. Is the hazard, the person is incubating COVID-19? And what's the risks associated with those? That others could be infected with COVID-19? That visitors, staff, and children can come into contact with that COVID-19 virus? The person with symptoms is not isolated or sent home? That symptoms are not reported appropriately and that surfaces are contaminated. So, it's a possible likelihood, and it's a severe risk rating. And these are some of the steps that you have potentially taken in relation to that potential emergency situation. And here, it's stating, "If a visitor, child, or staff member presents with symptoms while at the service policies and procedures relating to illness and infectious disease are followed". So, that is a control measure. The policy and procedure is a control measure. Who is aware of the procedure? Decisions need to be made around this procedure about what to do next. So, all staff will report to the responsible person. So, communicating those responsibilities. I'm responsible for communicating that to the responsible person or the nominated supervisor. And then, who are they responsible to also communicate to? All staff report to the responsible person if they observe another worker displaying any symptoms. And the child's family will be contacted to collect them as soon as possible, and the child will be cared for in an area that is separated from other children at the service. Now, you may have had that control measure in place pre-COVID, but if it's a new control measure, we need to communicate that to children, other educators, and families. So, the change of practice through that control measure needs to be communicated. There's a reason why, and the process or protocol or the procedure has changed because of the why. There's a hazard, we've identified the risk, and these are our control measures to lower the likelihood of that happening, and the risk rating, that it stops it becoming severe and potentially is moderate or low.
And this potential emergency situation is the asymptomatic child, staff member, or visitor. We are not aware that they've got COVID-19 symptoms. These are highlighted through the risks, and many control strategies. And most of you have got a lot of these control strategies in place to prevent the hazard of someone coming through with COVID-19 and they're not even aware that they have the signs and symptoms of COVID - they are asymptomatic. So, the actual plan, well, you could call it your control measures, has come from an identified hazard and the risks associated with the hazard. It's not just because other services seem to be doing it and we need to do it too. We've made it visible through a risk assessment. So, I encourage you to read further through this. And many of you have already got a risk assessment in place with control measures, but think about the intention of the risk assessment. It's the process, it's a tool of conversation. It talks about your why, and it makes clear the control measures for all stakeholders that come inside the service. And that's available on your Padlet. Once again, if you can't access it through the QR code, or you couldn't access through the handout, please type into the question or chat function and alert your moderator so they can make provisions for that to be sent to you.
So, let's recap. And many of you have asked some really great questions today, and I'd like to spend the last few minutes coming back to those questions. Just to let you know, there's been lots of questions that have been asked on the webinar today. I am going to address the most commonly asked or frequently asked questions from today and provide some answers to you. If your question doesn't get read out, the moderators have been responding to you about how those questions will be asked. But just let's recap before we go through the questions. Remember why we do risk assessments. It creates an awareness of why processes and procedures exist and how decisions are made inside the service. It's a tool of communication. It shows your thought processes, and it shows other educators inside the service as well around the thought process as around the 'what' and the 'how'. They require collaboration and input from all stakeholders where possible. It enables you to be compliant. It defines roles and responsibilities. It enables the common effective management of situations. It's part of our process of continuous improvement. It promotes and enables the health and safety of all stakeholders within the service. So, let's have a look at some of the questions. And often, we find that the questions being answered can sometimes be of better, greater use for most of you on the webinar today. And thank you for all of you for asking questions.
There are always great questions, so let's start with one that's probably a pretty frequently asked question. “When will be a good time, this is from Noelene, when would be a good time to have parents again enter our centre?” We are currently greeting at the door. OK, so, once again, risk management. Risk assessment processes. Consider why the restrictions have been put there in the first place. Remember the hazard. The emergency risk situation has a situation that a person can come into the service but be asymptomatic. And the hazard is that someone is incubating COVID-19. The risk is that they could come into the service, touch surfaces, contaminate others, and infect other stakeholders inside the service. So, one of the control measures has been that we're going to restrict access of families coming into the service. Has that changed? Has that hazard gone? Have the recommendations changed? So, if we change this and go, now we're going to have all families come back inside the service to meet and greet, what's the likelihood of the severity of that risk, and does the risk increase from probable to almost certain? So, once again, we got back to our risk assessment. If we allow all the families in, then we're going to have to have further control measures in place to be able to minimise, reduce, OR eliminate that risk or that hazard. Further the control measures. So, can we actually have further control measures inside the service to deal with that hazard, that potential hazard and the risks associated with that hazard? So, the risk assessment enables you to make the decision. And because we want connection with our families, are there other ways that we can connect in the relationship to our families? Do we need to think about other ways to communicate more frequently to families? As of now, we no longer have that current connection and contact at the beginning and the end of the day. So, what are other mechanisms to connect the relationship?
Other questions have been... This is an interesting one as well. “We definitely can't implement social distancing rules in our centre, thanks to Jane for the question. However, we may have precautionary steps such as body temperature checks for all children and staff before entry into the service. Good hygiene practices have been implemented such as washing hands on arrival, before meal times, after toileting, playing from outside, and so on. We are disinfecting toys, furniture, and floors with higher frequency. Any other suggestions to minimise the risk of exposure of COVID-19 in an early childhood setting?” Alright, so remember, hazard, risks of that hazard causing harm, likelihood, severity. Now, those precautions have obviously come from a risk assessment. They're not just about recommendations. These control measures have come from recommendations because we've identified our hazard and the potential likelihood of that hazard spreading COVID-19. So, we just need to reframe this. So, considering how you're using your risk assessment to inform those current precautionary steps, well, they're not precautions, they're control measures as far as that risk assessment goes. So, always consider why the practice is there now. And this is around this emergency situation because COVID-19 is so changeable. So, we come back and we review the risk assessment. If there's new information that comes to light from your reliable sources of information, then we might review our control measures. But if the recommendations have stayed in place, then those control measures you've got in place have come from reliable sources of information, why change those? Unless the hazard has changed inside the service. So, remember the process. We just don't go to precautionary steps. It has actually come from this, there's a 'why' behind those precautionary steps or what I call control measures, because we're trying to reduce the likelihood of the hazard causing harm- COVID-19. We're reducing the hazard, which is COVID-19 - a virus - and the risk of that potentially having an outbreak inside the service, and that has community consequences as well. So, this is a really interesting question.
This might help a lot of you that are on the webinar today, and this one has come from Joanne, and a really good question. “Are there any ideas or practices for incorporating the exceeding things (themes) into risk management and developing and implementing risk assessments?” It's a really great question, Joanne, thank you. So, once again, think about exceeding as the three things. Practice is embedded across service operations, practice is informed by critical reflection, and number three, practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community. Remember that we've got the indicators for those exceeding themes. So, Quality Area 2, Quality Area 6, collaboration with families and community, even Quality Area 4, staffing arrangements, where educators are collaborating and affirming each other, quality areas seven, governance and leadership, those systems and processes inside the service. So, looking at some of those indicators to guide us in relation to whether our current processes for risk assessment and risk management plans are hitting those exceeding theme indicators. The implementation, the evaluation, and the review is also meeting some of those, exceeding theme indicators. What indicates that it's exceeding practice? So, the first thing about the embedded practice. Practice is embedded across service operations, policies, procedures, systems, processes. Educators respond confidently to the change and flow of situations throughout the day. So, how is the risk assessment embedded across the service operations? Is it being modelled by educators? Am I hearing conversations in relation to the control measures, why they exist? Like, reviews of those risk assessments. Reviews of the control measures, talking to children about the 'why' of the process or the procedure. That even that might have different in practice across the age groups, it's still being informed from that risk assessment and educators being very aware because it's made visible to them through the risk assessment process. You may have other ideas around how practice is embedded across the service operations. That families are communicated with, that they're aware of the why, the what, and the how. Educators can articulate it clearly, and you hear them communicating with families about the why, the what, and the how, around the risk management or the risk assessment.
Consider the practice informed by critical reflection. And we often think about these two things, that "who is advantaged when I work this way?" But "who is disadvantaged when I work this way?" Critical reflection deals with issues such as social justice and equity. So, a story of practice might be that a family is highly anxious about COVID-19 and very anxious about leaving their child at the education and care service. And that anxiety is also very evident and present in the child. An anxiety to a level where it's all very immobilising and distressing for the family and the child. Educators might consider a critical reflection around this and think more deeply about their current practice and the practice where everybody is not allowed to come into the service. Educators thinking very deeply about that. So, others are advantaged but this family is very disadvantaged by this practice. Can we enable that family to come in to reduce the level of anxiety and reduce the anxiety of the child? And the decision has been, yes. And what we do further now is, we put further control measures in to enable that family to come in and have a stronger sense of participation and relieve that level of anxiety. But the practice is informed by critical reflection. And it's communicated. And then we've got, practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community. So, the voices of children in the risk assessments, the voices of our community members and our families. Also talking about our reliable sources. For the fire, have I consulted with the fire brigade? With the bushfires, if I've got a bush fire as a hazard and we're in an emergency situation, have I consulted with the rural fire service? So, considering how some of those practices, those risk assessments, are maybe, some of those exceeding themes and the exceeding theme indicators. And one last question before we go, and that will take us to the end. This is a fairly often commonly asked question. In family day care, are children allowed to use Play-Doh, slime, clay, during this pandemic? If yes, do we need to develop an action plan for that? So, once again, we think about, are they not allowed or disallowed? Is it eliminated? And if it's not eliminated, what are the control measures around this? Consider whether Play-Doh, slime and clay can be cleaned down. So, just like the textures, just like the paint handles on the paint brushes. The tables that children are touching. Those things can be cleaned down and disinfected. Can the Play-Doh, the clay or the slime be dealt with in the same way? Well, that control measure probably can't come into play. Well, we still want to do it. What does that mean, that each child gets their own individual clay, Play-Doh, or slime in their own individual plastic bag with their name on it?
Another control measure is that supervise that children don't share the clay, the slime or the Play-Doh, and that needs to be taken home. So, some services might say, well, we're eliminating these potential hazards out of the service because we just can't put enough control measures to enable that to happen. So, then consider other alternate sensory experiences that children can engage in if this particular sensory resource is a risk. However, we just can't put control measures in place and manage those control measures consistently to be able to keep the risk low and the possibility unlikely. So, risk assessments inform our decision making and communication of current practices and why we're doing what we're doing. So, always come back to those risk assessments, and remember, we call COVID-19 an emergency risk assessment because it's a type of situation that is changeable, it's less predictable, and this is why we call it an emergency situation.
So, thank you to all of you that have participated on the webinar today. My apologies if I didn't get to your question. The moderators have been responding to you in relation to the questions that you've been asking. I hope that's been of some assistance to you.
Thanks to the Early Childhood Education Directorate for funding these sessions, and thank you for attending. And the number of educators that have attended these sessions, it certainly shows the willingness, dedication, and professionalism of educators within children's services, the desire to do the best thing by their children, families, and each other, and the community. The level of interest certainly reflects that.
Best of luck with all your work. We will send the Padlet out to you if you've had trouble accessing this, and ensure that we're communicating to all educators the importance of these. It's the why, the what, and the how behind our practices, processes, and procedures.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
I look forward to seeing you at another stage, potentially on another webinar somewhere, and thank you for joining.