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Health, Safety & Technology Tips & Guidance

Risk assessment of playgrounds and children's activities: Or, “why tree climbing is not banned by the Health and Safety at Work Act”

By Mike Bedford
© ChildForum

tree climbing


When the Health and Safety at Work Act was brought in concerns were expressed by the education sector. For example, does the Act mean children can’t climb trees in ECE anymore?

Then there’s NZS 5828: Playground Equipment and Surfacing to think about.

Well the good news is that it’s pretty much all good news. Far from prohibiting tree climbing, the Health and Safety at Work Act provides the ECE sector with the opportunity to use developmentally appropriate safety measures, taking into account the necessary risk associated with children’s learning and skill development. The other piece of good news – the Ministry of Education has acknowledged that NZS 5828 is not legally enforceable in ECE, but should be used as a guideline. This is a great opportunity for a really sensible ECE safety approach!

In this article we’ll look at how risk assessment, the HSW Act and NZS 5828 can combine to develop safety approaches that recognise the goal of Te Whariki:

To grow up as competent, confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit...”


grating cookingRisk Management in ECE – It’s like Adventure Tourism

The approach to risk management that has been historically used in work places assumed that all risks were inherently undesirable.

This meant that once you had identified your safety risks, you should manage them by attempting to eliminate, isolate, or minimise the risks.

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