It's not simply enough to record that there is a hazard - there needs to be a process to report that hazard.
Have you spotted a broken shovel in a box of sandpit toys? Or been poked in the eye by a low hanging branch? Or complained about the baby gate that isn't always latching properly? You, my friend, are face to face with a hazard.
Each and every day, we should be conducting safety checklists in our services to ensure that the environment is safe for children, and the adults who come into the space too. We often have very specific things that we are looking for, working through a checklist and ticking the boxes when we determine that things are "safe".
Cassidy is an educator in a large early childhood service. On the early shift, Cassidy is tasked with completing a morning safety checklist. With a clipboard, pen and three sheets of paper comprising of a list of each area of the service, Cassidy walks around and checks the premises. On Thursday morning, while completing the checklist, Cassidy notices that one of the chairs in the toddler room has a broken leg. She notes this on the checklist, puts the chair in a nearby store room and continues the check. When she finishes, she places the checklist in a folder containing other completed checklists.
There are lots of questions with this approach.
Does Cassidy have a responsibility to report the hazard, or just to remove it?
Who else knows why the chair is in the storeroom?
Whose responsibility is it to get the chair fixed or replaced?
How will they know that it needs to be done?
What happens to the completed checklists?
What happens if someone doesn't know that the chair is broken and brings it out into the room and a child is injured?
It's not simply enough to record that there is a hazard - there needs to be a process to report that hazard. Now, who that gets reported to will vary depending on your service context, but it is important to have a plan in place so that appropriate and timely action can be taken. Regulation 103 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations states "premises, furniture and equipment to be safe, clean and in good repair." If this isn't the case, the Approved Provider of the service may face a $2000 fine.
Let's look at the scenario above, using Sprout.
Cassidy is an educator in a large early childhood service. On the early shift, Cassidy is tasked with completing a morning safety checklist. She takes out the service device and opens Sprout. She navigates to "checklists" and opens the Daily Safety Checklist. She ticks off each item. On Thursday morning, Cassidy notices that one of the chairs in the toddler room has a broken leg. She clicks on the item and "add hazard". Cassidy completes the details of the hazard. The nominated supervisor now knows what has occurred and a task can be created and managed to ensure that the chair is fixed or replaced. Cassidy removes the chair from the room and places a sign on it saying "broken"
The hazard has not only been removed, but reported. And now, it can be managed to ensure that there is no further risk to children. Plus - there's a clear and simple record of the entire process. No more folders filled with old checklists!
We all need to be a part of the hazard reporting process - we are responsible for keeping children safe. Sprout helps services and educators to do that in a way that is simple and efficient!
The terms "hazard" and "risk" are used quite a lot in early childhood. But what do they really mean, and what is the difference?
Risk assessments can sometimes feel onerous. There are a multitude of experiences, hazards and events that require risk assessing in our early education and care services and the paperwork can feel a little overwhelming at times. But, we want you to think about risk assessments as being a positive thing.
Boosting your professional knowledge doesn't need to be hard work, or to require countless hours hunched over a thick research book or sitting in a conference centre. There are so many ways that you can continually work to grow your knowledge and evolve your practice.