As a daycare or nursery owner, you have an important responsibility to reassure parents that their children will be safe in your care. This includes preventing accidents and incidents to all babies and children.

A hazard in the early years setting is something that can potentially cause harm, with a lot of hazards being specific to children. Sometimes these can be difficult to identify, as they wouldn’t necessarily be considered a hazard to an adult, so it is essential to think of everything that has a potential to be a risk when making your regular indoor and outdoor checks.

To prevent injuries to children, you need to set up an established system for recognising hazards and reporting any incidents. Only then will you be able to be vigilant, follow safety procedures to minimise risk and initiate action plans for improvement. To help you achieve this, here is everything you need to know about preventing accidents and incidents in the early years setting.

Identify Potential Hazards

There are certain areas that can pose hazards in any building. These have been outlined below along with a checklist of the action you need to take to prevent any potential accidents. To download the checklists, just click on the tables below.

Table of indoor hazards to children

Table of outdoor hazards to children

Preventing Accidents and Incidents

Children are curious and love to investigate, but the fact that they have little sense of danger can lead to all kinds of accidents. In order to fulfil your responsibility to parents and take care of their children, you need to have an understanding of child development as well as health and safety.

Let’s use this one key prevention method as an example.

Selecting Appropriate Safety Equipment and Resources

The choice of safety equipment and resources will depend on the age and stage of development of the children you’re caring for. All equipment needs to display a product-safety logo, such as the CE mark, to show that they meet the European Health and Safety Standards. The link between development and safety level is shown below.

Babies (0-1 year)

Development stage: babies are very dependent on adults and can easily choke on small objects.

Safety equipment needed: toys that are soft and have no loose or small parts.

A little boy playing with building blocks

Toddlers (1-2 years)

Development stage: toddlers are much more mobile so they are very likely to climb and explore. However, they have little sense of danger.

Safety equipment needed: stair gates, fireguards, window and cupboard locks.


Pre-school Children (2-4 years)

Development stage: pre-school children have more of a sense of independence, but although they are more coordinated, they lack self-control.

Safety equipment needed: resources that encourage independence but still provide safety, e.g safety scissors


School Children (4-7 years)

Development stage: school children are more independent and enjoy testing their abilities, but although they are more mature, they still need supervision.

Safety equipment needed: provide challenging activities whilst still retaining safety, e.g bikes with stabilisers and helmets.

Children playing on the floor

As well as choosing safety equipment and resources that are appropriate to the ages of the children, there are also other ways that you can prevent accidents:

  • Checking for hazards, both indoor and outdoors
  • Conducting regular risk assessments
  • Providing appropriate supervision and observation
  • Modelling safe practice and behaviour
  • Understanding child development, capabilities and needs
  • Following recording and reporting procedures
  • Communicating with parents and carers

If you abide by the European Health and Safety Standards and stay vigilant, you should create a safe environment that will reassure parents and prevent the likelihood of accidents. Just remember that you have an important responsibility to keep the children in your care safe, so supervision and regular checks are key.


Need More Help with Your Nursery or Health & Safety?

Child Care Health and Safety Wales provides many publications and resources on Health and Safety in a nursery setting, including policy log books and checklists that can be tailored to your business. If you need any advice or guidance on which ones you need, don’t hesitate to get in touch. | 07921 278986