Health and safety in a nursery is extremely important as these settings are responsible for looking after vulnerable young children.
Despite best efforts, there are lots of potential hazards in a nursery which could be dangerous if they are not correctly managed.
All nursery managers and owners are legally required to make sure nurseries are safe and secure, as well as ensuring staff are protected from any potential dangers.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that applies in other workplaces also applies in a nursery setting. It’s important to note that the legislation does not expect all risk to be eliminated as it understands that this is unachievable given the nature of the environment.
However, employers have a duty to take “reasonable precautions” and train staff so that they are aware of their roles and responsibilities when it comes to looking after young children. This means that risks are assessed and reasonable steps are taken to mitigate them.
So, how does this help you as a parent?
By understanding how nursery settings ensure their environment is safe, it helps you, as a parent, feel more at ease when leaving your children in the care of the nursery. You want to know that the nursery is taking health and safety seriously, and that there are defined measures in place to protect your little one.
Read this post to find out more about the health and safety measures in a nursery, including what early years providers can do to ensure their practice is compliant.
What is the Purpose of the Health and Safety Legislation?
The main purpose of the health and safety legislation in an early years setting is:
- To ensure the health, safety and welfare of all staff
- To protect children from risks arising from different situations
- To control the use and storage of dangerous substances (i.e. cleaning equipment)
- To control the emissions into the atmosphere of noxious or offensive substances
Responsibilities of an Early Years Setting Provider
Every early years childcare provider has a duty of care towards those that work in their setting, and those who receive a service from them (children).
Some of their responsibilities include:
- Ensuring all employees have the appropriate clothing and equipment
- Ensuring health and safety information is accessible for all employees, customers, and visitors
- Provision of first aid training and making sure there is an adequate number of first aiders in the setting
- RIDDOR regulations, reporting of injuries
- Carrying out risk assessments
- Providing basic health and safety training for all employees
Each individual employee also has a responsibility for ensuring their own health and safety, as well as that of others around them.
For a nursery owner, it’s vital to get ‘buy-in’ from all staff, regardless of what position they hold so that everyone is working towards a shared goal – keeping children safe.
EYFS Requirements and Health and Safety in a Nursery
A nursery must meet the EYFS requirements to ensure they are providing the best possible level of care.
The EYFS states that:
- The premises and equipment should be clean, and providers should be aware of the requirements of health and safety legislation (including hygiene requirements). This should include informing and keeping staff up-to-date.
- A health and safety policy should be in place which includes procedures for identifying, reporting and dealing with accidents, hazards and faulty equipment (risk assessments).
What are Risk Assessments?
Early years providers must carry out regular risk assessments, which identify aspects of the environment that must be checked on a frequent basis.
This involves deciding what actions need to be taken to prevent harm, as well as ensuring these actions are updated whenever necessary.
This ensures a nursery setting is safe and fit for purpose, so that children can enjoy their environment without being vulnerable to avoidable harm.
Whilst the health and safety law does not expect all risks to be eliminated, it’s important that staff are trained and aware of their responsibilities.
Parents have an active role to play too as they need to understand how they can contribute towards a safe space, such as closing gates behind them and not letting strangers into the building.
If a parent spots any potential hazards, it’s important they report these to members of staff as this helps create a safe learning environment for everyone involved.
Health and Safety Measures in a Nursery
For any parent, it’s reassuring to know that there are various ways a nursery can create an environment that is health and safety compliant.
By understanding where the problems lie, nursery owners and practitioners can develop a safe learning environment where children can thrive, free from harm.
Let’s take a look.
Health and safety in a nursery extends beyond looking after a child’s physical health. It also includes looking after their welfare to ensure they are leading happy lives, both in and out of the nursery environment.
Nurseries must fall in line with several statutory Government directives, as well as the procedures set by both the Local Safeguarding Children Board (‘LSCB’) and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
“Providers must be alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. Providers must have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children.” – The EYFS
As you can see, the rules are more far-reaching than simply keeping children safe at the nursery itself.
Beyond the general health and safety measures, every nursery will have child safeguarding policies and practices in place. This means that every member of staff will be vigilant about any neglect or abuse around every child in their care.
The EYFS sets the foundation of safeguarding measures for early years providers to follow which are based on four overarching principles:
- Children learn and develop best in an enabling environment
- Children are unique, learn constantly and can become resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
- Children learn and develop best in different ways and at different rates
- Children learn strength and independence from positive relationships
Furthermore, an integral part of safeguarding children is promoting good health and wellbeing. This includes maintaining high standards of hygiene and cleanliness which reduces the spread of infections in a setting.
Childcare providers must also have procedures in place for administering medication and supporting children with medical needs.
Other key factors aside from hygiene and healthy eating, include ensuring fresh drinking water is accessible at all times, and meeting first aid requirements.
Movement around the Nursery
According to HSE statistics, nearly half of all accidents in education are caused by a slip or a trip which can be avoided by implementing the correct safety measures.
Nursery settings should ensure that:
- Flooring is in good condition
- There is a sufficient amount of light
- Safety procedures are in place for any spillages
- There are no trailing electrical cables/leads
- Walkways are kept clear so there is no congestion
- Gardens are regularly checked for the presence of harmful objects
- Storage areas, stock rooms and staff rooms are always left tidy, with all items placed in safe places to avoid injury to people
As a parent, the nursery you choose should clearly state their health and safety policy to give you an idea of how they look after children in their care.
At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we provide safe and secure premises with CCTV throughout, so that you can be confident your little ones are in safe hands.
Furniture and Fittings
Nursery practitioners have a responsibility to maintain furniture and fittings so that they are safe to be used.
For example, if a child is sitting on a seat or a bench, there should be no possibility of it collapsing as this could lead to injury.
Furthermore, they must ensure that permanent fixtures are in good condition and are securely fastened so that they cannot tip over.
This also applies to hot surfaces of radiators as they must be properly protected to prevent the risk of burns to vulnerable young people.
Windows must also be assessed (in particular upper-floor windows) to ensure that they are safely locked or have restricted access. This reduces the risk of young children trapping their fingers or even worse, falling from a height.
All employees working in a nursery must be kept up to date with the latest safety practices and guidelines.
This ensures that every nursery practitioner is delivering the same level of care across the board, and leads to less inconsistencies.
Nursery owners must inform their staff with up-to-date health and safety guidelines such as:
- Implementing a ‘no running’ policy indoors
- Not allowing children to use equipment/apparatus without adult supervision
- Teaching children safe methods for carrying equipment, for example scissors or chairs
- Ensuring hot drinks are kept in cups with lids on to avoid any spillages
- Never leaving groups of children unsupervised
At The Hunny Pot Nursery, every child is assigned a key person to ensure that their daily needs are consistently met.
The key person also engages with parents and carers so that a child’s learning and development can be continued at home.
Electrical Equipment and Services
There will be lots of electrical equipment in a nursery setting, which could be potentially dangerous if they are left exposed to young children.
For example, loose cables, wires, and plugs could all cause a great deal of harm if they are not correctly covered or stored away. Aside from causing electrical shock, children could also swallow certain objects which is incredibly dangerous.
Nursery practitioners must therefore ensure that all plug sockets that are within children’s reach are covered, and that any electrical equipment has been visually checked and tested to ensure it is safe to use.
If there is any damaged electrical equipment, it’s vital this has been removed and replaced with a safe alternative.
If you’re unsure about the safety measures in your chosen nursery, simply get in touch with your chosen nursery. At The Hunny Pot nursery, we’re committed to keeping all children safe and secure to give every parent total peace of mind.
We have a highly experienced and qualified team who provide the best childcare experience, and we will be more than happy to discuss this in further detail. To speak to a member of the team, simply get in touch.
Your chosen nursery must consider the possibility of fire risks and how these are going to be controlled.
It’s important to check that there are fire exit doors in the classroom which are clearly signposted and unobstructed to facilitate easy access.
These doors should not be difficult to open or hidden away, as this could disrupt the evacuation process in the event of a real fire.
To ensure this, nursery practitioners need to be able to confirm that:
- Fire-fighting equipment is in place
- Fire evacuation procedures are clearly displayed
- All staff are aware of the evacuation process, including arrangements for any vulnerable children
It’s also important that these fire safety procedures are tested on a regular basis to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Ventilation and Heating
A classroom that is too hot or too cold can make it difficult for a child to concentrate and can therefore affect their ability to learn.
With that in mind, every nursery should ensure that there is natural ventilation by opening windows and doors when it gets too hot to allow air to flow through.
There should also be blinds in place to protect children from glare and heart from the sun as this can cause headaches and fatigue.
At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we embrace fresh air and understand the important role that this place plays in a child’s development. We have a range of exciting outdoor classrooms, which enable your child to run free and explore the natural environment.
Everything You Need to Know about Health and Safety in a Nursery
Understanding health and safety in a nursery is key for any parent.
Whether you’re leaving your child at nursery for a few hours, or for long periods of time during the working week, you need to know they are in safe hands.
During their early years, children are very vulnerable and it’s important childcare providers take health and safety very seriously. This involves caring for the child as a whole, including their mental health and physical health, and being able to identify any areas for concern.
By understanding this information, it should be of comfort to any parent looking for a suitable – and safe – nursery for their child.
At The Hunny Pot Nursery, our passion is to provide outstanding childcare for every child. From the moment they walk through the door, they will receive a warm welcome by experienced and qualified staff who are committed to providing the best childcare experience.
Our approach to health and safety is clear and defined, as we assign each child a dedicated person to cater for their individual needs. We’re also proud to maintain a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and you can read the full report here.
For more information about our nursery or to book a free tour, please get in touch with our friendly team!