Children in the workplace

WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about keeping children who are not employees safe in workplaces. A child was recently injured while visiting a workplace.


Safety issues

All people visiting or present in a workplace, including children, are protected by health and safety laws.

Children who are not employees may be in a workplace because they:

  • live on a farm or at a place where business is conducted
  • enter a workplace with a family member who is an employee or employer
  • ride in a vehicle being use for work
  • are a student in a school, a patient in a hospital or a customer in a shop
  • enter the work area of someone who works from home

Children are naturally inquisitive and may want to play in and explore the workplace. They are unlikely to think about the risks in the workplace.

Children may also enter a workplace without permission, for example to play on a construction site or in a carpark or storage area after employees have left.

Recommendations to control risks

If you are an employer, self-employed person, or a person who owns, manages or controls a workplace you should consider if there is any chance that a child will be in your workplace. If there is a chance of a child attending your workplace, for any reason, you need to consider this when complying with your obligation to identify hazards and control risks.

Possible risk controls may include:

  • Ensuring children are appropriately supervised in the workplace
  • Ensuring hazardous areas are secure so children cannot access them
  • Creating a safe play area if children regularly attend the workplace
  • Developing a policy on children in the workplace. The policy should cover:
    • When it is appropriate for children to be in the workplace
    • Supervision requirements
    • Which areas of the workplace children can be in

Legal duties

If you are an employer you must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of your business.

If you are self-employed you must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that people are not exposed to health or safety risks arising from the conduct of your business.

If you manage or control a workplace you must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it, are safe and pose no risks to health and safety.

If you are an employee, you must take reasonable care for the health and safety of people who may be affected by what you do or don’t do at a workplace.