Incident Reporting - In early years, the aim is always to prevent accidents and incidents through careful planning, effective use of risk assessments and adequate and up-to-date training. However, there are occasions when - even with the best and most careful planning, - accidents and incidents can occur. If these accidents involve children, then there is a statutory requirement to tell the relevant authorities because as well as following RIDDOR regulations, childcare settings should adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requirements for incident reporting.  

Childcare settings must prioritise incident reporting to maintain proper records, ensure that lessons are learnt, protocols are followed, the correct people are informed promptly, and everyone understands their role in preventing these incidents from occurring again. Mismanagement of incidents and events by childcare settings and/or childminders can result in prosecution and de-registration, so all settings must understand their legal duty to report any accidents and incidents.  

What Regulations Apply To Incident Reporting?

The Government publishes information about the events and serious incidents that must be recorded and reported, and more information can be gained from: 

  • Childcare: reporting children’s accidents and injuries 
  • Report a serious childcare incident   
  • Recording Accidents in a Nursery

Who Do These Regulations Apply To

  • Childminders 
  • Nannies  
  • Nurseries 
  • Other daycare providers 

It is therefore important that ALL staff are familiar with incident reporting protocols and know what constitutes a reportable incident. 

Several institutions may need to know about things that have happened in your setting. These include: 

  • Ofsted 
  • The local authority or safeguarding hub  
  • The LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) 
  • The police 

Which one you need to report to depends on the incident or accident and its severity. In most cases, Ofsted needs to be informed. 

As a nursery setting, you must tell Ofsted about the following.  

Any allegation of serious harm or abuse committed either at the premises or elsewhere by people who: 

  • Live on the premises 
  • Work on the premises 
  • Look after children on the premises 
  • A disqualification of the registered provider, an employee or someone living on the childcare premises  
  • Any significant event that may affect someone’s suitability to look after children or be in regular contact with children (e.g., health changes or involvement with the police or social services) 
  • Any events that might affect the condition and safety of the premises or the quality of childcare offered, or lead to ongoing closures (such as a fire or flooding) 
  • The death of a child while in your care 
  • Any serious accident, injury, or illness of a child in your care 
  • Any incident of food poisoning affecting at least 2 children 
  • The death of, or a serious accident or injury to, anyone else on the premises  

What constitutes a serious event? 

You must tell Ofsted about any of the following: 

  • Anything that requires resuscitation 
  • Admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours 
  • A broken bone or fracture 
  • Dislocation of any major joint, such as the shoulder, knee, hip or elbow 
  • Any loss of consciousness 
  • Severe breathing difficulties, including asphyxia 
  • Anything leading to hypothermia or heat-induced illness 

Eyes, exposure to chemical substances and electricity are special cases and it is important that all staff understand the difference and when to report these things.  

EYES – If a child suffers any loss of sight (whether temporary or permanent), or if there is a penetrating injury to a child’s eye or a chemical or hot metal burn to the child’s eye, the event must be reported to Ofsted.  

SUBSTANCES – You must tell Ofsted if a child suffers any injury from absorption of any substance either by inhalation, ingestion, or through contact with the skin, and/or where there is reason to believe the injury occurred from exposure to a harmful substance, a biological agent, toxic or infected material.  

ELECTRICITY – Ofsted also needs to be informed if a child suffers an electric shock or an electrical burn.  

Minor accidents and incidents 

As a setting, you will know that children can often have minor accidents and incidents, injuries or illnesses that do not need to be reported. These are the ‘everyday’ accidents that children can have such as: 

  • Small insect bites (bee/wasp sting) if it does not cause an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis 
  • Sprains, strains and bruises such as when a child trips over their feet whilst walking 
  • Cuts and grazes from minor falls 
  • Minor burns or scalds  
  • Small dislocations of minor joints such as fingers and toes 
  • Wound infections which are not serious 
  • Routine medical appointments 
  • General hospital appointments 
  • COVID-19 confirmed cases as long as there is no long-term effect on how you provide your childcare and no long-term hospitalisation 

Even if these minor injuries lead to hospital treatment (for less than 24 hours), there is no need to report them, but if you are concerned, it is better to check than under-report.

Incident Reporting: Record keeping 

Even if an incident does not need to be reported, you should keep accurate records of ALL incidents and accidents. According to the National Online College, the following information should be recorded in any report and/or accident book: 

  • The full name and date of birth of the child/children involved 
  • The date and time of the accident or incident 
  • The full name and signature of the staff member who observed, dealt with and is recording the accident or incident 
  • A description of the accident or incident, including how or why it occurred 
  • A description of the injury that occurred  
  • A description of any care given to treat the injury  
  • The name of the individual who administered any care provided (this must be a member of staff qualified in Paediatric First Aid)
  • A body map illustration demonstrating the position and location of the injury 
  • The signature of any staff members who witnessed the injury 
  • A countersignature of another qualified childcare practitioner 
  • The signature of the parent or carer who is informed of the incident or accident 
  • Whether the incident is to be reported to Ofsted 

How to report accidents and incidents

To fulfil legal requirements, a setting should complete an online form and submit it to Ofsted within 14 days. The form takes about 10-20 minutes to fill in. You will need your postcode and registration number.  

Following a report, Ofsted will review the incident, possibly refer to previous incidents and they could talk to you at the next visit or arrange an inspection.

Other usful blogs on accidents and incidents - How to respond to accidents, injuries, and emergency situations

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