It is a legal requirement for all employers who employee more than 5 staff to have risk assessments in place. Ofsted also require you to carry out a risk assessment for outings.
An assessment of risk is nothing more than a careful examination of what, in your workplace, could cause harm to people. Carrying out a regular risk assessment enables you to weigh up whether sufficient precautions have been taken, or whether you should do more to prevent harm.
Creating a safe environment does not mean removing all the equipment that could involve risk or writing a long list of rules. This will confuse and restrict both children and workers. It means creating an environment for children that is challenging yet safe, a place in which all kinds of activities can be carried out safely.
Safety inspections need to be carried out so that workers can
- Identify an unsafe condition
- Decide what corrective action is required
- Determine who is responsible for correcting it
- Follow up to ensure that it has been corrected properly
A safe setting not only requires safe premises and equipment. It also involves safe behaviour and activities and safe practices. Each setting should have its own procedures that outline the safety standards expected and are produced jointly by everyone concerned.
The following inspection schedules are recommended. Even people working in their own homes will find it helpful to follow this pattern but will need to adapt it to incorporate the procedures into normal domestic routines.
- Visual inspection – each day that a session is run Every day the setting is used, a visual inspection should be carried out before the children arrive – look for things like breakages, inadequate cleaning or piles of rubbish. Make a record of the inspection and any action taken. Routine maintenance such as cleaning sand-pits and trays should also be carried out. In addition make sure that storage areas are locked and emergency areas unlocked. Any equipment or toys that the children are using should be visually inspected at the start of each session. It is good practice to involve children in tidying up and putting away toys before they go home. During a session deal with any breakages or spillages immediately and set up systems for supervising and maintaining toilet and bathroom areas.
- Walk over and use inspection – every week to ten day Walk around the entire setting and test all equipment including outdoor play equipment, heating, cooking and water fittings. In addition make sure that all moving parts on equipment are well oiled. Record that the inspection has taken place and make a note any repairs that have been made.
- Full check list – every term Draw up a check list to identify specific areas within your setting where wear and tear is likely to occur and may cause problems. For example in the outdoor play area you should check the depth, fixing and edging of a safety surface, look for signs of corrosion on equipment and inspect the state of the paint work. Alongside their inspection all workers should have the opportunity to voice specific concerns they may have about equipment or procedures used. This discussion should take place within staff meeting when ideas can be shared and considered. It is important to give people enough time for this discussion.
Download a sample Risk Assessment template (PDF 27.1KB)