How To Risk Assess Activities in Your Setting
Risk assessments ensure that we have taken every step possible to prevent any accidents or injuries that may happen as a result of activities in our EY settings. In a risk assessment you should list possible hazards as well as preventative methods you have undertaken to remove, or reduce the chance of injury. If you haven’t done a risk assessment before, it can be tricky to get your head around it.
Here are the main issues to be aware of:
Consumption of materials & possible allergic reactions
If conducting a food-based activity, ensure you are fully aware of any allergies the children may have. Be careful of children ingesting safe food in unsafe quantities e.g., a pinch of salt in a recipe is safe, but spoonfuls of salt are very unsafe.
Even if not conducting a food-based activity, be aware of what substances children could consume, such as mud, glue, glitter or paint.
Danger of substances getting into eyes
Along the same lines as consumption of materials, be aware of substances like paint, soapy water, mud or dust that could easily splash/be rubbed into children’s eyes and cause irritation.
Slip and trip hazards
This is applicable to almost every activity but especially important for when mud, water or paint is being used, or children are running around. Ensure all possible trip or slip hazards, like toys on the floor, holes in the carpet or spills, are tidied or cleaned up before the activity. If the activity is messy, make sure spills are being cleaned as and when they happen.
Any stacked toy boxes or bookshelves should be inspected for instability. Be aware of any items on high surfaces like tables or countertops that could be at risk of falling.
Activities that cause the children to exert themselves should not be carried out in hot weather in case they overheat. Similarly, outdoor activities in cooler weather should be monitored to ensure children’s clothes aren’t becoming wet and causing their temperature to drop.
All toys and utensils should not be small enough to swallow and present a choking hazard. Food should be chopped up into pieces small enough for children to eat easily.
Falling from heights
Children should only be allowed to climb on appropriate play equipment such as climbing frames and should be monitored throughout. If activities include standing or climbing on items, the height and risk of falling should be assessed and recorded in advance.
Danger of trapped fingers/clothes/hair
Assess any toys or equipment for moving parts, such as hinges, that may allow children’s fingers to become trapped. Similarly, if play equipment has broken, hooked or jagged edges that may snag hair or clothes, this should be covered or removed before play.
If using sharp utensils during food prep or craft activities, assess the need for adult supervision and how to keep sharp items out of reach of children when not needed.
This is in no way an exhaustive list – there are many more risks to consider in any setting or activity, but this should give you a good indication of what to start looking for. To help, why not look at old risk assessments from activities in your setting? They should have some on file.