Barnsley Early Start and Family Services

Risk assessments for children with individual needs

A risk assessment allows an activity to take place safely; it shouldn't be used as a tool to stop something happening. Risk refers to the possibility of a situation occurring which could be potentially harmful to an individual.

There's an element of risk involved with tasks carried out to support children with individual and complex health needs. These risks will be minimised by having a risk assessment in place. It's the responsibility of the setting to make sure risk assessments are in place and acted upon.

A risk assessment will help the setting make reasonable adjustments to ensure the child’s safety and the safety of others. It will be a combination of many factors, including infection control.

For children with individual needs you should have a risk assessment specific to the child in place as soon as you know the child will be accessing your setting.

Why you need to carry out a risk assessment on a child with additional needs

The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify:

  • possible causes of harm
  • the likelihood of harm actually occurring, given the safeguards already in place
  • any further safeguarding measures needed to reduce the likelihood further 

You have a duty of care for the health and safety of members of staff, those within your care and anyone else who might be affected by your actions. A risk assessment will help you to plan and make suitable arrangements to meet the child’s needs safely.

Your setting needs to have a risk assessment in place for legal reasons. The requirement to carry out assessment of risk presented in work activities was introduced as part of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

If there's an accident or incident involving staff or a child, the setting will need to show that reasonable steps to prevent harm were carried out and a copy of the risk assessment must be retained on file as evidence of this.

In order to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to a child with any physical, sensory, medical need or behaviour difficulty, it's advisable to establish policies and procedures for their safety in advance. For any individual child with significant individual or sensory needs you should complete a risk assessment as soon as you know they will be joining the setting. This should include a preliminary assessment to make sure you can meet their needs at your setting. The assessment will need to be reviewed yearly and additionally if there are changes to the setting or needs of the child.

Risk assessments are everyone’s responsibility. All staff should be involved in the process of developing and implementing them. All staff should be aware of the content of the Individual Risk Assessment for children with SEND.

Examples of issues that children are likely to require a risk assessment for

  • Oncology, or similar
  • Behavioural issues
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Low school attendances

Regulations and legislation

You should be familiar with the regulations and legislation below surrounding risk assessments:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing the act and a number of other acts relevant to the working environment.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 set out a range of new responsibilities for employers, the key focus being risk assessment.

Employers need to make a written recording of any significant finding of the assessment.

Specific risk assessments should be in place for children and young people under 18 years of age and for new or expectant mothers - employees who are pregnant, who have given birth within the previous 6 months or who are breast feeding.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)

Reporting accidents, incidents and ill-health at work is a legal requirement for both employers and employees under RIDDOR.

The information enables the HSE and local authorities to identify where and how often risks arise enabling them to investigate serious accidents and prevent them from reoccurring.