The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify hazards that could cause harm, assess the risks that may arise from those hazards and decide on suitable measures to eliminate, or control, the risks.
This approach might appear to be novel to those involved but, in reality, we all carry out risk assessments to a variable extent everyday, for example, when crossing a road or carrying a heavy load from a car to an upstairs room.
It is recommended that the approach to carrying out the risk assessment follows the 5 Steps approach:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who is at risk and how they may be harmed
- Identify current controls
- Plan any future controls
- Decide who is responsible for these controls and when by.
In order to ensure that a structured approach is taken to identifying risks associated with an event and to enable all involved to be aware of the measures that are being taken, it is advised that a written risk assessment should be prepared for all activities. It’s good practice to carry out a risk assessment at least once a year for each of your children’s groups.
You should also complete a separate risk assessment for any outings which are planned.
Why do I need to do it?
It might seem like an additional piece of paper/admin, but the reality is that IF there was to be a serious accident, a court of law could want to know what precautions you had put in place to help prevent such an accident. You cannot completely eradicate risk, obviously, but the law requires us to protect people as far as “reasonably practicable”. Having a completed risk assessment in your file is one way that you could show that you had done this. (Of course you need to act on it too!)
How will I do it?
Identify the HAZARDS and list them. Use the checklist on the following page, this highlights some important areas which may pose a risk. Walk around the location of the group and imagine what happens when there are adults and children in the room. Your risks could include reference to ratios, having leaders who have been recruited according to safer recruitment principles (ask if you’re not sure) as well as physical hazards like scissors, loose carpets, unsafe door latches etc.
Decide WHO might be at risk. Children or adults? Is one age group at greater risk than another? WHAT might happen?
Identify Current Controls: Write down what you currently do to minimise this risk. Most of us judge and act on risks as we go along, often without really thinking about it. This is a chance to write down the existing good practise you use.
And these current controls are ESSENTIAL!
Ensure that all of the leaders and helpers in your group have an up to date CRB/DBS, in addition to references and confidential declaration forms are completed, signed and collected by the safeguarding adviser.
Ensure your leaders and helpers have attended Safeguarding and First Aid training.
Ensure that you have up to date information sheets for all your children so that you know about allergies and any other relevant medical information and that you know who to contact in an emergency. Ensure these forms are securely stored and accessible to leaders when needed.
Plan any Future Controls (further action) which could be taken to further reduce the risk.
You could start by asking yourself two questions:
- Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
- If not, how can I control the risks so that harm becomes less likely?
Here are some ideas that you could consider.
Try a less risky option, change the materials or tools you are using.
Prevent or limit access to the hazard eg. One child does it at a time.
Put safety equipment in place eg. a gate across a thoroughfare etc.
Make sure you have first aid resources ready to help deal with injury promptly.
Present any finding of material defects (such as loose carpets, ill-fitting cupboard doors etc.) to the relevant person on the PCC/Church fabric or maintenance group.
Decide who is going to make sure that these actions are in place each time that the group meets.
This could be more than one person if you have a rota for the group. It is essential to ensure that all on the rota know what actions need to be taken, you might need to check that they are actually done, at least until they become part of the routine.
It is good practice to allow the Incumbent and/or PCC to see these risk assessments, and you might need to do this if there are any funding issues revealed.
Write a note in your diary to revisit them in 12 months’ time, but if anything changes in the meantime, (for example the group increases in size, or if an accident occurs) you might need to re-do a Risk Assessment sooner.
Risk Assessment Checklist
|Area||Risk assessment needed Y/N|
|1||Recruitment of leaders & safeguarding issues|
|2||C&YP being dropped off/collected|
|3||Registration & medical/allergy needs|
|5||Strangers, Neighbours and visitors|
|6||Entrances, Exits and Windows|
|9||Kitchen Facilities & Food Hygiene|
|11||Electrics & electrical equipment|
|12||Cleaning materials and other noxious substances|
|14||Toilets & Storage areas|
|15||Fire & Carbon Monoxide|
|16||Plants & Toys|
British 13 Amp sockets have built in automatic shutters to protect against children poking things in them.
First introduced more than 60 years ago, they are considered the safest in the world and do not require external covers.
No responsible national body recommends using socket covers. That includes the UK Government, RoSPA, Ofsted, Child Accident Prevention Trust and Electrical Safety Council.
Ofsted does not require you to use socket covers.
Sockets are made to accept plugs which meet very exact requirements. Anything which is not a standard plug MUST be made to the same dimensions as required for plugs. No socket covers which meet those dimensions are available!
Please note, ALL UK power sockets (three rectangular pins) have shutters, even those which are 60 years old! Socket covers introduce a variety of dangers; they make sockets less safe, not more. Some socket covers have many faults, some just a few, but none makes sockets safer than they already are. www.fatallyflawed.org.uk has lots of detail on socket covers, the dangers they create, and reviews of many different types.!
In the interests of safety you should regularly check the condition of your sockets, and you may want to include that in your risk assessment.
PLEASE DON’T USE SOCKET COVERS!