Buyer’s Guide: Health and Safety – Take good care' thumbnail

Buyer’s Guide: Health and Safety – Take good care

Looking after young children’s welfare embraces not just secure entry systems to nursery buildings, but everyday products for hygiene, reports Mary Evans.

Nursery managers must ensure they have effective policies, procedures and equipment to enable them to safeguard the security and welfare of the children in their care. The range of kit available spans high-tech ICT gadgets such as key-fob entry systems (see case study) to basics such as wet wipes and finger guards for windows and doors.

‘Finger guards for doors have been on the market since the year dot,’ says Kevin Davenport of nursery supplier the Whole Kaboodle. ‘But they are just as important now as they ever were, as you need to protect those little fingers.

‘Nurseries have to maintain high levels of hygiene and there are ranges of liquids, detergents and anti-bacterial products available. With concerns about sensitive skin, we also offer alcohol-free hand gels and our liquid soaps are unperfumed. There are obviously seasonal issues to think about regarding food hygiene. In the summer people ought to consider whether they need fly screens and food covers.’

He says children are never too young to start learning about hygiene. ‘We have a range of brightly coloured bins shaped like a mushroom or a pencil. They are attractive and in keeping with the decor of a nursery and are a fun way for children to learn about throwing away rubbish properly, or they can be used for recycling. ‘Our number one seller is wet wipes. We get through a whole pallet of wet wipes a week – there are an awful lot of babies’ bottoms being cleaned out there.’


Security is a major issue, but managers need to maintain a balance between keeping children safe and turning a setting into a mini Fort Knox.

The installation of webcams allows managers to operate a strict security regime alongside a virtual extended open-door policy, says Melissa Kao, managing director of Nursery Cam. ‘Webcam gives parents instant peace of mind, as they can just log on and see what their child is doing,’ she says. ‘CCTV has also become very easy to operate. You used to have to install videotapes that had to be replaced routinely and quite often the footage was very fuzzy. Now, with digital technology, the images are-high quality and are stored on the hard drive for up to a year.’ She says nurseries are also using ‘James Bond technology’ fingerprint and key-fob entry systems which are much more affordable. ‘First thing in the morning, when a nursery has not got all its staff on duty, it can take up a great deal of staff time if someone has to keep leaving the room to let in parents making the early drop-offs. With a fingerprint recognition system, parents can arrive and be admitted to the building. If you have parents who are always late, the system can also give you the entry records to show them.’


The camera network for a CCTV system can be used not just as a security tool, but to provide peace of mind for parents, a prompt to dialogue, and a means for keeping in touch for parents working abroad.

The London-based Active Learning chain installed CCTV/webcam and a high-tech key-fob door security system as standard when it was launched five years ago. ‘We have six settings and are opening three more next year,’ says managing director Bill Zuckerman (right). ‘We did a great deal of research before we launched our nursery business and realised that webcams are not just about security. They are a way for parents to keep in touch with their children.There are times when we have special events on in nursery, and for parents who cannot attend it gives them the opportunity to log in.’ There is a controlled password system which enables parents of children enrolled at an Active Learning setting access to the webcam of the particular room where their child is based. There are no cameras in the staff room or toilets. ‘Because we can control the access, we can sometimes allow access to the extended family, such as grandparents living in Australia.’

Mr Zuckerman says that parents can log in and see what their children are doing and ask about their specific activities. This results in a more lively two-way discussion, rather than asking the child what he or she has done that day and getting the answer ‘I can’t remember’. ‘We have CCTV cameras outside covering the exit points,’ he says. ‘The images are stored for three months on the hard disc and we can extract them. We had a burglary recently and it was captured on the CCTV, which was helpful.’ The children and staff are used to the cameras and ignore them, but if there was ever an allegation of misconduct or a complaint, the evidence is available, which Mr Zuckerman says gives added protection.

The nurseries have key-fob entry to the buildings, so in bad weather parents can get inside without waiting. ‘At normal drop off and collection times the principal would be at the main door meeting and greeting, but at other times parents can use their key-fob to get into the building – but only as far as the entrance foyer. The rest of the building is on a security lock to which parents do not have the code.’

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