Fabric and fibre activities


​Guideline review date: 28 October 2021​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.​

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in fabric and fibre activities to support curriculum delivery.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline (e.g. dyeing fabric) must comply with the requirements of all CARA guidelines appropriate to the activity (Visual arts guideline).

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise, request written risk assessment advice and attach it to this CARA record.

For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.​

Low risk: Fabric construction and decorating techniques by hand (e.g. knitting, crochet, tapestry, hand sewing and use of fabric glue).
Medium risk: Simple fabric construction and decorating techniques by machine (e.g. sewing machine, overlocker), the use of heat [e.g. iron, hot glue gun], craft knives and cutters.
High risk: Complex fabric construction and decorating techniques by machine (e.g. quilting and weaving machines).

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

Compliance with the department's guide to managing electrical equipment in departmental schools and workplaces is required when planning this activity.


Parent consent (DOCX, 306KB) is required for all activities conducted off-site and strongly recommended for high risk activities conducted on-site.


Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

For activities with students with a medical condition or disability that may impact on safety during the activity, consultation with parents is required prior to allocating supervision to determine the impact of students' medical condition or disability on safety during the activity.

It is recommended that teacher demonstration be used as the principal teaching strategy for medium and high activities.

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students' ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs. 

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers.

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must closely supervise students when using and mixing chemicals and when using machines
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable.

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—Blue Cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

At least one adult supervisor is required to be:

For low risk activities:

  • A registered teacher with knowledge of fabric and fibre activities and the potential hazards, or
  • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with knowledge of fabric and fibre activities and the potential hazards.

For medium and high risk activities:

  • A registered teacher with demonstrated competence (knowledge and skills) in fabric and fibre activities and knowledge of the properties and hazards associated with all materials and equipment used, or
  • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with demonstrated competence (knowledge and skills) in fabric and fibre activities and knowledge of the properties and hazards associated with all materials and equipment used.

Facilities and equipment

The qualified adult supervisor of the activity, in consultation with the principal, determines the requirements for facilities and equipment appropriate to the local context.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken, including sufficient space, adequate lighting and ventilation to ensure safe participation and that safety rules and procedures can be followed. Undertake a reconnaissance of new or infrequently used locations to ascertain suitability.

Participants must wear personal protective equipment as relevant (e.g. enclosed footwear).

Stable benches (e.g. sewing or drafting tables) and chairs or stools of a height suitable for the activity must be available.

All equipment must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

A process for checking for damage for all equipment used in the activity must be established and employed.

A maintenance schedule (e.g. checking for damage, repairing, sharpening) must be established and enacted for all plant and equipment used in the workspace (e.g. sewing machines). Consult Equipment Maintenance Records (EMR) template.

A retirement schedule must be developed to replace plant and equipment by manufacturers' nominated expiry date or when significant wear causes a hazard.

If privately owned equipment is being used, Principal approval and owner consent/insurance details must be obtained prior to the activity.

Consult chemicals in curriculum activities for support in assessing the risks of chemicals used with/by students in curriculum activities.

If a CARA record is required in OneSchool, a summary of chemicals, plant, equipment and/or materials used in the activity must be provided by entering directly onto the CARA record in OneSchool or by attaching a summary. Sample templates are provided on chemicals in curriculum activities and plant, equipment and materials in curriculum activities.​

 Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Facilities and equipment hazards
Control measures


If power is required, ensure electrical or extension leads do not pose a tripping hazard.

Heat sources
Steam, burns

Ensure explicit instruction is provided in safety precautions when using an iron (e.g. temperature, steam).

Discourage students from unnecessarily moving or carrying hot liquids.

Equipment and materials

Ensure fabric and craft glues are clearly labelled (e.g. when decanted into smaller containers).

Provide explicit instructions on safe use of equipment (e.g. sewing machines, overlockers, irons, weaving looms) prior to the activity.

Enforce safety guidelines throughout the activity.

Ensure equipment (e.g. scissors, sewing machines, overlockers, irons, weaving looms) is stored securely, and correctly lifted and set-up when it is required for use.

Ensure students are aware of the potential hazards of plants (including those that are poisonous if eaten and those with corrosive sap) before collecting them for use in activities.

Sharp implements or objects

Keep scissors sufficiently sharp to allow for easy cutting, and store in a way that allows safe selection.

Slips, trips, falls

Procedures must be in place to immediately manage the removal of all spilt substances (e.g. breakages bin, mop, spill kit for large spills).

Student considerations
Control measures


Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.

Student issues

Remove accessories (e.g. jewellery, lanyards) before participating.

Ensure fingernails and hair do not pose a hazard.

Monitor and enforce the correct use of equipment.

Maintain close supervision of students.


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Last updated 13 July 2022