I heard on a course about risk that rope play needed a "risk benefit assessment". I found most children to be very sensible when using ropes and a supervising adult can "dynamically" risk assess with the children as the need arises.Or have you found yourself exclaiming, in a John McEnroe tone "Oh no, they cannot be serious!" when you've read another H&S circular about a routine or procedure that must be rigorously followed? A good example here, is the use of toilet tubes. In the UK, it is listed on the Health & Safety Executive Myth of the Month page where it clearly states that it's fine to use toilet tubes that have no clear visual contamination.
The aim of this discussion is have a practical look these matters. Please do pitch in... if we share, discuss and challenge assumptions, then our voices of reason will grow deeper and stronger. I want children to play and learn in environments that are as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. Here's some examples I've come across recently:
"Children may not be blindfolded..."
What would happen to so many sensory games and activities if we felt we couldn't use blindfolds? I use fleece scarves which are warm and soft.
"We don't let children go outside in icy weather..."
In winter, children will encounter ice. Learning how to manage this slippy surface is a life skill in Scotland. Hang on, don't children ice skate and ski? So when one is on ice for a sporting reason, it's OK? Hmm...
"Children can't play with string because of H&S..."
This child is using string and soft wire. The manual dexterity skills are enhanced through using string in play. He's using the string to hang "lights" in a den.
"If children play in soil they might get dirt underneath their fingernails, so our H&S manager does not allow this..."
At this nursery, the teacher sensibly moved the plants and allowed the container to become a digging pit when children wanted to dig there. Since then, the children have become interested in planting, watering and root systems! It remains one of the most popular activities.
"We can't use old tyres because of the metal wire in the rim..."
It's always sensible to check and clean tyres before putting them into a play space. I've yet to encounter wire sticking out of the rim. Though I do know of one local authority that does not let its schools use them in case they get too hot in the Scottish summer heat (ahem)!
What do you think? Fair or fake reasons? Practical ways forward? What's your experiences of managing health and safety expectations?