Thursday, 11 February 2016

Simple, Common Sense Risk Assessing for Outdoor Learning

We never like to exaggerate the risks associated with outdoor learning. In our view it's about common sense, preparation, a watchful eye (from teachers and children) and simple procedures such as that outlined below.

School Outdoor Learning provide resources, training and solutions to enable schools to fully engage with and utilise their outdoor environments.

Outdoor Learning Risk Assessment

This outlines some of the more common risks associated with the outdoors – it’s not comprehensive so feel free to add your own hazards and actions. Please note that you should assess your own school site and in accordance with your own school’s risk assessment procedures and apply risk levels. Also that risk assessment should be managed by everyone in the group taking part, including children. Create an atmosphere of open dialogue with children about where hazards exist and how to mitigate/manage them.

Sharp or prickly materials
Encourage long sleeves and sturdy footwear (not open shoes or flip flops) and discourage wearing shorts. Carry a first aid kit.
Poisonous berries/fungi
Give verbal warnings not to eat anything put things/fingers in their mouths. Seek medical assistance if ingested. Wash hands carefully after the trip/activity (especially before eating or drinking). Carry wet wipes or antibacterial gel.
Low branches
Give verbal warnings to take care (especially of eyes) and encourage children to give warnings to others.
Uneven ground, holes, slopes, tree roots and fallen branches
Advise to walk carefully and avoid running in dense areas. Wear suitable footwear and plan a route appropriate to the weather and the age  of the children.
Children going out of sight/missing
Advise children on boundaries and give verbal warnings. Adults to keep visual contact with their group. Correct ratios of adults: students should be maintained. Have an agreed ‘missing person’ procedure that everyone is aware of, including an agreed meeting point in emergency situations.
Members of the public
Avoid contact with strangers and animals where possible. Ask owners to control their pets if passing.
Insect bites/stings or allergies
Be aware of children with allergies (such as to nuts, insect stings, or pollen i.e. hay fever). Check anyone with severe allergies has their asthma pump or Epipen, and they are able to administer it. Remind everyone of the risk. Carry a first aid kit. Tuck socks into trousers if in a potential tick area.
Dangerous litter (i.e. fly-tipped waste, broken glass, syringes)
Conduct a safety sweep of the area before the activity takes place. remind people of the dangers and, if appropriate, show an example.
Disease or infection – i.e. toxicara canis (dog faeces), tetanus (soil), leptospirosis (rat urine), lyme disease (ticks)
Cover broken skin on hands (i.e. wear gloves), advise of the risks and symptoms and seek medical advice ASAP if infection suspected. Tuck socks into trousers if in a potential tick area.
Sun/ultra violet radiation
Advise of the risks. Cover exposed skin, especially top of the head, back of the neck and shoulders. Encourage wearing the right clothing to cover up exposed skin. Work in the shade wear possible. Take water for rehydration.
Slippery surfaces
Warn about mud or ice. Change activity or route according to the weather and seasonal conditions.
Severe weather – electrical storms or gale force winds
Check weather websites for the latest information and severe weather warnings. Avoid wooded areas in very high winds. Cancel activity if too severe.
Open water
Verbal warnings of danger area. Advise to keep clear of water’s edge/banks. Have a throw line if working near deep or fast flowing water.

Daily Hazard Check List

(To be completed before the start of or during every outdoor learning session/activity)

Activity/lesson__________________________________________          Date____________________

Site/Area______________________________________________           Time____________________

Hazard no.
Hazard identified
Moving traffic
Hazardous materials
Poisonous plants/berries/fungi
Deep or moving water
Animal faeces
Overhanging branches/dead trees
Uneven ground/hidden holes
Fences and barbed wire
Sharp objects
Very hot weather conditions
Extreme cold weather conditions
High winds

Controlled Actions Implemented
Control actions (ERICPD)
Enter hazard number and details (next to Control Action)
Eliminate – remove hazard
Reduce – change or alter activity environment
Isolate – restrict access to (or around) the hazard
Control – change to a less hazardous activity
PPE – provide personal protective equipment (i.e. gloves)
Discipline – training or advice e.g. point out hazard, safety briefing
Other -

Completed by______________________________          Signed______________________________

School Outdoor Learning provide resources, training and solutions to enable schools to fully engage with and utilise their outdoor environments. 

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