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Introduction to Health and Safety in Childcare Settings

Legislation Impact on early years practice

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (Great Britain)

Outlines the responsibility of individual employees for maintaining health and safety in the workplace.

  • Childcare Act 2006

Focuses on improving outcomes for children in the early years through the ‘five outcomes’ of Every Child Matters (including ‘being healthy’ and ‘staying safe’). Introduced the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2008 (including the welfare requirements for promoting health and safeguarding children).

  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (revised 2004)

Provides guidance for lifting and carrying children, including correct techniques and procedures for risk assessment.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2004 (COSHH) Protects children from dangerous chemicals (including cleaning substances and medicines), including regulations about storage and usage.

  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

Outlines the procedures for reporting Accidents, Injuries and Infectious diseases such as TB and Meningitis to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

  • The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006

Provides guidance on the preparation, storage and cooking of food and the requirements for staff training in food hygiene.

  • Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2012 (England)

The safeguarding and welfare requirements outline the legal responsibilities for providers in promoting children’s health, safety and wellbeing (ages 0–5 years).

 

  • 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 organisation of the environment

The statutory safeguarding and welfare guidance in the Early Years Foundation Stage revised edition (2014) include the legal requirements for organising 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 a childcare setting
  • Complying with legislation

As an early years 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 years 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 organisation 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.

  • Health and safety information

There are many organisations that provide information and guidance on all aspects of health and safety. These include:

Health Protection Agency (HPA):

an organisation responsible for protecting public health through the provision of support and advice to the National Health Service, local authorities, emergency services and the Department of Health

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

A national independent watchdog for work-related health and safety issues, responsible for acting in the public interest to reduce work-related death and serious injury

  • Food Standards Agency (FSA):

An independent government department responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK

  • British Safety Council:

A UK charity that works with businesses to improve their health, safety and environmental management

  • Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT):

A UK charity working to reduce the number of children killed, disabled or seriously injured In childcare settings.

  • Professional practice

Example

Take care of your own health and safety.

Avoid lifting heavy objects on your own or without the appropriate training. Follow health and safety policies and procedures in the setting.

Know the emergency procedures for fire and evacuation of the setting. Keep fire exits clear.

Make sure that medicines and other harmful substances are stored safely. Follow strict hygiene guidelines.

Maintain strict hygiene practices when preparing food or drinks for children and when carrying out toileting or nappy changing procedures.

Maintain the cleanliness of the environment, toys and play materials.

Conduct risk assessments.

Check the safety of the environment, equipment and play resources.

Assess risks for planned activities and outings.

Encourage children to follow health and safety procedures and hygiene policies.

Carry out regular hand washing routines.

Supervise the safe use of toys and play equipment.

  • Case study

 Cheryl has just been promoted to the position of deputy manager at ABC Day Nursery, a registered setting that provides places for children aged six months to five years. The manager has asked Cheryl to review and update the health and safety policies at the nursery.

  1. Describe the health and safety policies you would expect to be in place at ABC Day Nursery
  2. Explain why it is important for early years settings to review and update their health and safety policies on a regular basis.
  3. List some of the health and safety organisations that Cheryl might consult, and give examples of the information she might obtain from each one.

Investigate the procedures in your placement or workplace setting for:

  • Reporting accidents and notifying childhood illnesses
  • Food hygiene procedures when preparing snacks for children
  • Storage of medicines and cleaning substances.

Using additional information from the Health and Safety Executive (www.hse.gov.uk), create a health and safety report that explains the ways in which these procedures contribute to children’s health and wellbeing

  • The spread of infection

Most infections are caused by harmful organisms such as bacteria or viruses (these are both often referred to as ‘germs’). These organisms can easily spread from person to person through the process of cross-infection and this can happen in a variety of different ways.

  • Ways in which infection spread
  • Learning aim

Understand how to prevent the spread of infection

Explain why it is important to control the spread of infection in the early years setting.

Analyse how procedures in early years settings prevent the spread of infection.

  • Preventing the spread of infection

Young children are vulnerable to infection, as their immune systems are still developing. Policies and procedures to prevent the spread of infection are extremely important for protecting children from illness and promoting good health. In settings where there are groups of children together, the infection can easily spread from one child to another. Early years practitioners have a responsibility to follow strict procedures in order to prevent infection from spreading. One of the main ways to prevent the spread of infection in early years settings is through the practice of frequent hand washing, by children, staff, other adults and visitors to the setting. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) recommended hand washing procedure; practice using this method until it becomes your routine way of washing your hands.

  • Health and safety equipment and resources.

Another important way to prevent the spread of infection in an early years setting is by using appropriate equipment and resources. For example, you should use disposable gloves and aprons, appropriate waste bins for hazardous waste (including dirty nappies), disposable tissues and paper towels. The spread of infection can be minimised if all staff follow guidelines, use equipment correctly and encourage children to do the same.

  • AIDS:

Auto-Immune deficiency syndrome: a serious (often fatal) disease of the immune system

Bacteria:

Single-celled organisms, some of which are harmful to the human body

Cross-infection: when infection is spread from one person to another.

  • Hepatitis: A/B

A disease characterised by inflammation of the liver and caused by a virus or toxin

  • HIV:

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is responsible for causing AIDS

  • Immune system:

The body’s system of defence against disease or foreign substances Organisms: living beings that have the ability to act or function independently Standard Infection Control Precautions: practical measures that help minimise the risk of infection from blood and body fluids

  • Viruses:

Tiny, contagious organisms that often cause disease

Method of spread Example Prevention Airborne or droplet (breathing in) Infection is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing (e.g. the common cold). Cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use tissues and dispose of them appropriately. Have good ventilation in the setting. Direct contact (skin to skin) Infection is spread by touching (e.g. cuddling or shaking hands). Frequent, thorough hand washing procedures, particularly after using the toilet, before handling food and after touching animals

  • Ingestion (swallowing)

Infection can be spread by eating contaminated food (food poisoning), by touching food with dirty hands (e.g. not washing hands after using the toilet) or by putting dirty hands in the mouth (e.g. after playing outside).

  • Strict Food hygiene procedures.

Thorough hand washing, particularly after using the toilet and outdoor play

Regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment, toys and play materials Body fluids (blood, urine, vomit)

Some infections can spread from one person to another by direct exchange of body fluids (e.g. hepatitis, HIV and AIDS).

Always use the Standard Infection Control Precautions when dealing with blood and other body fluids.

Wear disposable aprons and gloves.

Dispose of nappies, blood-soaked dressings and other used first aid materials appropriately. Cover your own cuts with waterproof, adhesive dressings.

  • Vectors (animals)

Some infections can be spread by insects and animals (e.g. flies or ticks).

Keep food covered.

Try to keep flies out of the setting.

Encourage children to wash hands frequently, particularly after handling animals or playing.

Professional practice in controlling the spread of infection There are many ways for practitioners to control the spread of infection in early years settings.

  • Policies and procedures

Make sure you are familiar with the policies relating to infection control, e.g. food hygiene and dealing with illness.

  • Personal hygiene

Wash your hands frequently. Keep your fingernails short and tie back long hair. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cover any cuts with brightly colour waterproof, adhesive dressings.

  • Changing nappies and toileting routines

Wear aprons and disposable gloves. Wash your hands before and afterwards. Dispose of used nappies in an approved waste unit.

  • Hand washing

Always wash your hands thoroughly, following the procedure recommended by the Health Protection Agency.

  • Handling food

Follow strict hygiene procedures when preparing, storing or cooking food, as outlined by the Food Standards Agency.

  • Disposal of waste

Follow guidance for waste disposal, including nappies, chemicals and other hazardous waste, glass and other sharp materials, as outlined by the Department of Health.

  • Dealing with body fluids

Follow the Department of Health Standard Infection Control Precautions for dealing with blood and all other body fluids (including urine and vomit). Wear disposable gloves, wash hands thoroughly and dispose of waste materials (including used first aid dressings) in approved clinical waste units.

  • Cleaning procedures

Always clean up spillages immediately. Use an approved disinfection solution to clean surfaces, equipment and play materials. Machine wash soft toys and dressing up clothes regularly. Keep the outdoor environment clear of animal faeces, broken glass and other debris.

  • Record keeping and reporting procedures

Accurate record keeping can help practitioners take appropriate precautions to control the spread of infection. Records must be easily accessible, although confidential information about children must be held securely (according to the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations 2016. Information held about each child in the setting should include:

  • Full name, date of birth, address and emergency contact details for parents or carers
  • Immunisation records and medical history (including details of medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma)
  • Any allergies (e.g. specific foods, bee stings or other allergies that could result in a medical emergency).
  • Parents or carers of infected children should always be notified immediately. The parents of the other children in the setting should be informed by phone, letter, email or other communication methods. It is important for parents to understand that they should not bring ill children into the setting. The setting should advise parents to contact their GP or other health professionals if they are concerned about their child’s health. Most infectious diseases have a specific incubation period and children should be isolated throughout the infectious period of the illness.
  • Notifying relevant authorities

Most cases of infectious diseases in early year’s settings must be reported to Ofsted). The outbreak of some infectious diseases (such as meningitis) must be reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). In some cases, this may lead to the closure of the setting for a period of time. It is very important to report and record all information accurately and to provide clear information and reassurance for parents.

  • Professional practice in controlling the spread of infection

There are many ways for practitioners to control the spread of infection in early year’s settings. Measures used to control the spread of infection.

  • Policies and procedures

Make sure you are familiar with the policies relating to infection control, e.g. food hygiene and dealing with illness. Personal hygiene Wash your hands frequently. Keep your fingernails short and tie back long hair. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cover any cuts with waterproof, adhesive dressings. Changing nappies and toilet routines Wear aprons and disposable gloves. Wash your hands before and afterwards. Dispose of used nappies in an approved waste unit.

  • Hand washing

Always wash your hands thoroughly, following the procedure recommended by the Health Protection Agency.

  • Handling food

Follow strict hygiene procedures when preparing, storing or cooking food, as outlined by the Food Standards Agency. Disposal of waste. Follow guidance for waste disposal, including nappies, chemicals and other hazardous waste, glass and other sharp materials, as outlined.

  • Department of Health.

Dealing with body fluids Follow the Department of Health Standard Infection Control Precautions for dealing with blood and all other body fluids (including urine and vomit). Wear disposable gloves, wash hands thoroughly and dispose of waste materials (including used first aid dressings) in approved clinical waste units.

  • Cleaning procedures

Always clean up spillages immediately. Use an approved disinfection solution to clean surfaces, equipment and play materials. Machine wash soft toys and dressing up clothes regularly. Keep the outdoor environment clear of animal faeces, broken glass and other debris.

  • Design

Design a poster that could be displayed in your staff room, providing guidelines for staff in preventing the spread of infection.

  • Research

Go to the Health Protection Agency Website at www.hpa.org.uk and investigate the methods of spread, incubation and infectious periods for the following diseases: chicken pox, meningitis, salmonella.

  • Research

Investigate where children’s records are kept in your placement or work setting.

How is confidential information kept securely?

Compare the procedures in your placement with those of others in your group and make a note of the similarities and differences.

  • Research

Investigate how different kinds of waste are disposed of in your placement or work setting (e.g. dirty nappies, first aid materials and broken glass). Make sure you know how to do this correctly.

  • Your assessment criteria: Learning aim
  • Understand how to prevent the spread of infection

Explain why it is important to control the spread of infection in the early years setting.

Analyse how procedures in early years settings prevent the spread of infection. Make sure you clean and disinfect surfaces, equipment and play materials on a regular basis

  • Research

Investigate the procedures in your placement or work setting for notifying parents about infectious diseases in the setting. Design a fact sheet that could be used to inform new parents about the procedures in your placement.