health and safety and insurance

Every service should meet all required standards for this; including infection control through strict hand washing guidance; safety of equipment and food preparation, safety of any transport used, and while escorting children to and from school, or on outings. Parents have a part to play here by meeting the service requirements for information and written permissions in terms of medications administration, or emergency contacts child health issues, allergies, and recent contact with infectious illnesses.

The service should have a written Health and Safety policy and risk assessment (compulsory where there are 5 employees or more), Insurance Certificate up to date and on display, Health and safety regulations poster on display, including location of fire assembly points and named staff responsible for procedures and first aid, with a first aid box and accident book, and staff trained and certified in first aid.

All service users from the youngest child up should be well versed in the need to follow emergency procedures, and, to follow instructions to the letter, therefore you should ask about things like fire drills, or changes to the escorted routes from school for insurance purposes and different weather or environmental conditions e.g. road works.

Services should be clean and comfortable, with equipment and resources clean, kept in good working order and regularly maintained.

Health and safety laws and regulations are sometimes presented as a reason why certain play and leisure activities undertaken by children and young people should be discouraged. Such decisions are often based on myths or misunderstandings about what the law requires. The HSE has worked with the Play Safety Forum to produce a joint high-level statement that gives clear messages tackling these misunderstandings. HSE fully endorses the principles in this Statement.

This statement makes clear that:

  • Play is important for children's well-being and development
  • When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits
  • Those providing play opportunities should focus on controlling the real risks, while securing or increasing the benefits - not on the paperwork
  • Accidents and mistakes happen during play - but fear of litigation and prosecution has been blown out of proportion


All out of school care services must have public liability insurance and be covered for the activities which are undertaken in the service. Although Health and Safety is often cited these days as the reason for why something cannot happen, in reality it may not be a health and safety issue (see above) but an insurance one- services should check the small print of their policy, as sometimes activities such as climbing trees and riding scooters may not be covered. Services can choose to add additional cover onto policies to ensure that the insurance covers the activities delivered.

last updated: 07/07/2023