Life is a series of unexpected events, and although your child care centre doesn’t have a crystal ball, it can predict risks, highlight hazards and take steps to keep kids as safe as possible.
Your service has safety procedures in place, and educators are always on the lookout for anything that can cause harm (aka a ‘hazard’).
They’re legally obliged to ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and hazards likely to cause injury, and this means your service has to assess current and future risks, and make a plan to manage them.
How does it do this?
Risk assessment and management isn’t quite as easy as 1,2, 3.
It takes vigilance and care, and involves your service:
- Identifying each hazard or potential hazard
- Assessing the risk of harm or potential harm (e.g. from low to extreme)
- Managing the risk, by removing it completely or minimising its impact
- Evaluating the risk once it’s been managed, then
- Reviewing and monitoring the risk to make sure it stays low going forward.
This process is all about spotting hazards and controlling risks risks before the worst happens, and hazards can be physical, mechanical, electrical, chemical, biological or psychosocial.
In other words, a wet floor might cause slipping, a frayed power cord could lead to electrocution, cleaning chemicals open up a chance of poisoning, a rodent infestation may result in food contamination, and bullying is bad for all ages.
The good news is that hazards and risks are always on your educators’ radar.
They’ve got their eyes peeled for possible problems, they talk about hazards in team meetings, and a hazard identification checklist is a daily safety check designed to keep everyone out of harm’s way.
What is a hazard identification checklist?
As you’d guess from the name, this document identifies hazards and checks that risks are being managed when it comes to indoor and outdoor environments and equipment.
One or two educators are responsible for signing off on this document each day, and they check that hazards are under control and make a note of any action that’s required (such as removing a broken toy or giving families a heads-up about soon-to-expire medicine).
What’s covered in a hazard identification checklist?
No service is exactly the same, and some risks come and go, so your service will have its own list of hazards and risk management, which are regularly reviewed as circumstances change and new alarm bells ring.
As a guide, though, the safety checklist will manage risks associated with:
- Trip and slip hazards (e.g. loose tiles)
- Hazards from human activity (e.g. broken glass)
- Hazards from the natural environment (e.g. animal waste)
- Hazards from electrical outlets and cords (e.g. missing safety covers)
- Chemical hazards (e.g. cleaning products)
- Facilities, materials and equipment (including moveable outdoor equipment)
- Doors, gates and fire exits
- Forms for accident/injury/illness, medication and asthma or anaphylaxis management
- Rubbish bins, and
- Weather conditions that impact outdoor practices
How do child care services manage risks?
Different risks are managed in different ways, so your service might control the risk by:
- Removing the hazard totally (e.g. binning broken equipment)
- Switching to a less dangerous alternative (e.g. non-toxic products)
- Separating the hazard from people (e.g. barricading off a wet floor until it’s dry)
- Redesigning equipment or using safeguards (e.g. child-proof locks on cupboards)
- Changing policies and procedures (e.g. how children are lifted for nappy changes), or
- Putting a barrier between people and the hazard (e.g. with sunscreen)
How else do services deal with hazards?
Risk assessment and management plans are part of daily practice, and your service has plans in place for learning experiences, transport and excursions, too.
There are clear policies and procedures around hazards and potential harm, and regular Work Health and Safety inspections also ensure risks are kept under control.
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