Early childhood education and care: Safety basics

Understand and control the risks in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings.


Early childhood education and care

Most early childhood education and care services are regulated to ensure children are protected from harm and that their opportunities for learning and development are maximised.

Common hazards and risks in early childhood education and care

  • lifting, carrying and moving children and objects
  • working at low levels (on the floor or children’s furniture)
  • slips, trips and falls, for example on the floor or children’s furniture
  • standing on chairs and tables to put artwork up
  • communicable diseases
  • work-related stress
  • bullying and harassment

Lifting and moving

In early childhood education and care settings, injuries can often come from tasks like lifting children, moving heavy objects, and a lot of bending, twisting or reaching. Examples include lifting children on and off change tables, and bending or squatting to their height.

Tasks like these may involve hazardous manual handling, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders like sprains and strains to the back and shoulders.

Health and safety in early childhood education and care

Our tools and guides can be used to assess and control the specific risks in your workplace.


Involving your employees in health and safety issues can result in a safer workplace. That's why consultation is an important part of risk management. In certain situations employers must consult about health and safety issues with employees and health and safety representatives (HSRs) if they have them.

Risk management process

  1. Find the hazards in your workplace.
  2. Assess the risks associated with those hazards. You don’t have to do a formal risk assessment if there is already information about the risk and how to control it.
  3. Control the risks.
  4. Monitor and review your risk controls. Revise the controls if they are not working.

Think about all workplaces

Managing risk applies to anywhere employees are working. That may include an early childhood service, a home-based service such as family day care, or in vehicles or public places for activities and excursions.

Health and safety legal duties

Under Victorian occupational health and safety law, there are specific duties to ensure health and safety in workplaces. For more information about your duties, see occupational health and safety – your legal duties.


Examples of employer duties:

  • For your employees, you must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employees may include contractors and agency staff.
  • Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Ensure that the conduct of your business does not endanger other people (including volunteers, visitors and children).
  • Report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe.

Who’s an employer?

If you have one or more employees, you are an employer. An employer can be a:

  • person
  • company
  • partnership, unincorporated association, franchising operation, or not-for-profit organisation


Examples of employee duties:

  • Take reasonable care for your health and safety in the workplace. You must also take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don’t do.
  • Cooperate with your employer about any action they take to comply with the OHS Act or Regulations. For example, use equipment properly, follow safe work policies and procedures and attend training.
  • Don't intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything at the workplace to support health, safety and welfare.

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