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Coping with Crisis. Learning Lessons from Accidents in the Early Years.

In Bookshelf Early Years Practice


This practical and informative guide brings together health and safety legislation and the welfare requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2014, with a particular focus on accidents. By using case studies where children have died or suffered life-changing injuries, this book analyses what went wrong, focusing on the behavioural elements where applicable, the legislation breached and possible lessons learned for the future. At the end of each chapter, there are reflection prompts, information on safety campaigns and signposts for further advice and guidance.


I picked up this book with a fair degree of trepidation as accidents and fatalities in nursery are the things that keep me awake at night. However, despite the awfulness of the subject matter I found the book to be an informative resource that I could see would be of great benefit to me in my leadership role and to my staff as they learn to risk assess and review their practice to ensure that children are protected and kept safe. 

The authors begin by highlighting common areas of weak practice that can lead to accidents in the setting. They then explain how accidents can be investigated and used as learning tools for the future. The authors take into account human error, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the involvement of a range of legal processes (such as the Health and Safety Executive) and finally the authors help us to consider whether lessons can be learned for the future. It is this analysis after an accident that I found particularly useful throughout the book - I could see how such thoroughness would enable us to improve what we do and enable us to risk assess our setting more effectively. I would also use this book with junior staff to alert them to the potential dangers and hazards that might befall children in an early years environment. I could see an extremely useful learning exercise for staff looking at our environment and completing an exhaustive list of 'what ifs' - this would help them see how and where accidents might happen. 

An accident is defined by the authors as being "a sequence of unplanned events that results in injury or ill health". They surmise that "Most accidents are preventable where sensible and proportionate risk management techniques are put into place and precautions are understood and followed." 

The authors explain in depth how the different reporting mechanisms work and remind us as early years leaders that there are several agencies that we need to work with following an accident including Ofsted and the local Health and Safety Authority. They give key, clear and succinct guidance of how to follow up an accident - which if the setting is in turmoil will be extremely useful.

Throughout the book there are examples of accidents that have occurred, they are all upsetting and they all bring back memories of local and national reporting at the time. Yet, within each example there is great advice and pertinent reminders which help us review our practice and look again at our procedures. 

Edited by Rebecca

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