How do you complete risk assessments for your baby and toddler classes?
Even though baby and toddler classes are informal, they must still be safe places for volunteers, class leaders, visitors, and families to attend. Everyone at the class needs to know their responsibilities to ensure that safety and wellbeing are prioritised at all times. As part of this, insurance companies require that you demonstrate a proactive approach to safety by completing a written risk assessment for your class that underpins your decision-making and planning.
We’re once again joined by the Early Years Alliance. This time Alison Heseltine, Early Years Development Manager, is here to help to guide you further.
The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England, supporting 14,000 members to deliver care and learning to over 800,000 families every year.
Read on to find out what they advise:
What Happens In Risk Assessments For Baby And Toddler Classes?
Risk assessments are a process by which you identify any potential hazards in the class that could cause harm and who might be affected by these.
You then look at the likelihood of these hazards occurring, how serious they potentially could be, and decide if they can be eliminated entirely or managed to reduce the risk of harm.
The final stages of a risk assessment are to make sure that any steps you have identified are carried out, determine who is responsible for doing so. And of course to review the assessment when necessary.
Who Needs To Get Involved?
Although the responsibility for completing the risk assessment may be with the class leaders, everyone must understand that they have a part to play.
A good place to start is by walking around your venue to identify any potential hazards. Take some time to review the layout, ensuring you’ve checked the resources, room features, session routines, and the numbers and needs of the families attending the class.
You should involve other leaders, your volunteers, and the families themselves in this stage as they may notice something that you have missed.
Identify And Evaluate
Now you have identified the hazards, ask yourself who might be harmed, the likelihood of this happening and how they might be affected.
Perhaps, for example, you have bought a new piece of equipment, you have a kitchen that is accessible from the main room, or as is often the case in community venues, furniture stacked around the edges of the room.
Consider each point in terms of all the people who attend your class. What would be the risk of the hazard occurring and what would the impact be?
Plan Appropriate Precautions
Once you have evaluated the potential risks you can plan the precautions you will take to either reduce or remove the hazard.
You may already have some steps in place – a safety gate on the door to the kitchen along with a ‘no children in here’ notice or ensuring that all toys in the class reach the appropriate toy safety standards. You need to record these in your written risk assessment.
Add in any further steps that need to be taken, who is going to oversee these and by when. Keep any instructions clear and simple. It is important to ensure that everyone is aware of the precautions and procedures you have identified. That way, they can be actively involved in keeping themselves and other class users safe.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning Precautions For Risk Assessments In Your Baby Classes
Think about everything that happens at your class from the moment people arrive to the end of the session when they leave:
- Do your families know why it is so important that they sign in and out?
- Do they understand why they need to keep fire exits clear of prams and bags?
- Do they understand why they need to comply with your hot drinks policy?
- Do they know what to do if they find a broken toy?
- Do they understand that they are responsible for their children at all times?
Finally, you will need to review your risk assessment at regular intervals or if something has changed. Have you or a class user seen a new problem? Or have you noticed a trend in the accidents that are occurring in the class?
Revisit your risk assessment to reflect this new information. And update everyone to ensure they are aware of any changes that need to be made. Speak to your insurance company if you are unsure of anything. They often have free information and advice to guide you.
For more information, advice and support, visit the Early Years Alliance website.
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