Service location, roads and carparks
When assessing applications for service approval, the Regulatory Authority considers the suitability of the proposed early childhood education and care service premises, including the location.
This includes assessing the risk of harm or hazard posed by vehicle access. This may include considering the proximity of the premises to roads, carparks, driveways or drop-off zones.
Planning, design and construction stages
When planning, designing and constructing a service, the approved provider should consult with architects, developers, planners and building practitioners familiar with the National Law objective of ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children.
The Regulatory Authority encourages approved providers to seek relevant expert advice and guidance to assist in managing the risks associated with vehicle access to areas surrounding and adjoining the service. For example:
- traffic engineer, regarding traffic flows and road safety strategies
- civil engineer specialising in the design and construction of safety bollards and barriers required to withstand vehicle impact
- the local council, regarding traffic management plans or road safety programs which may be underway or planned for areas adjoining and surrounding the service.
Physical factors affecting road safety
Approved providers need to consider a range of
physical factors such as the proximity of roads and road-related areas to children’s outdoor play areas, as well as the proposed location of pick-up and set-down areas, car parks and walkways.
When assessing potential safety issues relating to vehicle access and how any risks will be managed, the approved provider should consider
relevant matters such as:
- speed limits of any adjoining roads. For example, a 60km/h adjoining road presents a higher risk than a 40km/h designated ‘School Zone’ adjoining road
- the flow and direction of traffic. For example, what direction do cars enter the service’s carpark? Is traffic congestion more prevalent at certain times of day?
- any need to install adequate safety barriers and/or bollards to protect children’s outdoor areas/rooms adjoining carparks and roads
- the design and location of pedestrian access areas such as footpaths, entrance gates, access ramps and walkways to ensure the safe passage of children to and from the service to adjoining vehicle access areas such as ‘drop-off and pick-up zones’, car parks and roads
- proximity of the service to other public venues – for example, schools, early childhood services or entertainment venues such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas or sporting venues – which experience high levels of traffic and congestion at peak times which coincide with ‘drop-off and pick-up’ times at the service
- the location of other public amenities near the service, such as service stations, train and bus stations, shopping centres or storage facilities where heavy vehicles access the adjoining roads (such as trucks, buses and trains) and which may present additional road safety risks to children
- the number of children attending the service. For example, a service with 80 or more children in attendance will require greater car-parking capacity and pedestrian access than a service with only 10 children in attendance
- use of signage, fencing, safety gates and barriers which affect the routes that children are able to take and encourage safer travel.
This is not an exhaustive list. Approved providers also need to consider whether there are any additional physical safety factors specific to their service premises.
Precautionary measures – addressing road safety
Approved providers should identify and implement precautionary measures to address the risks to children’s health and safety that carparks, roads and road-related areas may present.
Examples of precautionary measures include the installation of:
- guard rails, bollards or barriers
- increased signage
- reinforced fencing, particularly for indoor or outdoor play areas that adjoin a busy main road or a carpark. Note: Although a concrete block fence may be intended to prevent an out-of-control vehicle entering an outdoor play area, would any new risks emerge from, for example, flying concrete if the fence was breached?
- speed bumps on streets or roads in the immediate area.
In relation to the above, the Regulatory Authority may seek through the approved provider, a statement from the engineer overseeing the installation of the relevant safety measure to ensure it is of a design to withstand the particular risk posed by vehicles and that it has been installed in accordance with the product safety specifications.
Policies and procedures for improving children’s safety
The design, layout and physical factors of a service are only part of the picture. The service must also have adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children.
Services should also ensure all staff, children and families attending the service are familiar with the policies and procedures. This includes access to ongoing training and development opportunities to put them into practice. For example, a large service catering for more than 80 children may require additional staff to assist in car-parking areas to help children and families during peak drop-off and pick-up times.
Services must have a risk management plan which considers the layout of premises, the surrounding landscape and infrastructure. It is important to tailor the plan to address risks specific to the service and its surrounds. This will enhance the effectiveness of any measures targeting areas of risk. It will also ensure approved providers are meeting their obligation to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm or hazards likely to cause injury.
The service must have procedures on how children and adults will enter, exit and move about and around the service. This includes
emergency and evacuation routes, drop off and pick up procedures, and supervision procedures.
Services must have an emergency and evacuation plan and procedures tailored to the service, in addition to a risk assessment identifying potential emergencies. This risk assessment must include any relevant concerns about a road or road-related area.
Consider the following example.
A service cares for 120 children, ranging from birth to kindergarten age. There is a carpark on the premises for parents to drop off and pick up their children. The approved provider has mapped an emergency evacuation route where the assembly area is in the carpark.
Here are some scenarios to consider:
- How will staff prevent traffic from entering or exiting the carpark during an emergency or fire evacuation, while ensuring there is still room for emergency vehicles?
- If an emergency evacuation occurs during peak times, for example, at drop off or pick up time, how will the early learning centre staff direct traffic to ensure that children can travel and assemble safely in the carpark?
- Is there enough space in the carpark for all early learning centre staff and children to assemble, considering the presence of parked cars that may take up space?
Help and support
Contact your local regional office if you need information about safety considerations for services.
Learn more about an approved provider’s responsibilities relating to the health, safety and wellbeing of children attending their service from the following legislation: