Introduction to Health and Safety in Childcare


Introduction to this unit

Parents want their children to be safe and well when they leave them in someone else’s care. They also need reassurance that early years practitioners know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency. In this unit, you will learn about preventing the spread of infection and how to deal with emergencies in the early years setting. You will also learn how to create safe environments, both indoors and outdoors, while still allowing children to explore and take risks. The knowledge from this unit provides an introduction to a Paediatric First Aid course, which is required for work in all settings.


Legal requirements for practitioners

Understanding and complying with health and safety legislation is one of the most important aspects of working with young children. Parents and carers need to know that their children will be safe in your care and you are legally obliged to follow the guidance set out in health and safety regulations. Young children are very vulnerable and depend on you to keep them safe from harm. It is therefore very important to have a sound working knowledge of the legal requirements for health and safety.


Health and Safety legislation

The law relating to health and safety varies in the four home countries of the UK and it is important that you are familiar with the relevant legislation for the country in which you work. The health and safety legislation for all four countries includes guidance for practitioners relating to:

  • promoting the good health of children by preventing accidents and dealing with emergencies
  • preventing the spread of infection by maintaining strict hygiene practices and infection control procedures
  • carrying out risk assessments and maintaining a safe, secure environment, both indoors and outdoors
  • Keeping up to date with legislation relating to health and safety and undertaking regular training.


The Organization of the environment

The statutory safeguarding and welfare guidance in the Early Years Foundation Stage revised edition (2014) include the legal requirements for organizing the setting in order to meet the health and safety needs of children from birth to five years old. In registered settings, the indoor premises must be large enough for the number of children in the setting. The provider must also ensure that, so far as is reasonable:

  • The facilities, equipment, and access to the premises are suitable for children with disabilities
    • There are suitable hygienic facilities for changing any children who are in nappies
  • There is an adequate number of toilets and hand basins available

Investigate the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage revised edition (2014). Reflect on how it affects your practice in placement and make a list of some of the reasons why it is important to comply with the legal requirements in the following areas:

  • Promoting children’s good health
    • Preventing the spread of infection


The Organisation of the environment in the childcare setting

Complying with legislation

As an early year’s practitioner, it is your responsibility to understand how health and safety legislation applies to your own practice in the workplace setting.

Complying with health and safety legislation is extremely important in order to:

  • protect children, staff, and others from accidents, injuries, and illness
  • promote children’s health and wellbeing
  • provide reassurance for parents and carers and inspire their confidence in the setting
  • maintain a safe working environment for children, staff, and visitors
  • meet the requirements for registration with Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) in England.


Professional practice

You will need to undertake regular training in areas such as first aid and food hygiene and will also be responsible for keeping up to date with changes in legislation and regulations.

Learning aim: Understand the importance of complying with relevant health and safety legislation and regulations.

Describe how legal requirements affect practice in early year’s settings using examples relevant to the home country:

  • to promote the good health of children
  • to prevent the spread of infection
  • for risk assessment
  • For the organization of the environment.

Discuss the reasons why early years settings must comply with legal requirements for health and safety.

Assess the ways in which legislation and procedures in early years settings contribute to children’s health and wellbeing.

Professional practice Example

Wear protective clothing when necessary. Use aprons and disposable gloves when changing nappies. Report Accidents, Incidents, Injuries, and Illness. Complete accident reports. Notify the relevant authorities. Communicate with parents and carers when necessary.