Your nursery business should be safe for children to play and learn. A large part of that is to give them a suitable playground to practice social interaction or just run around.

How do you create one which can guarantee children’s safety? Well, the UK Government has a few regulations that apply to your playground and offer some guidance.

This guide discusses playground regulations for daycare, which includes:

  • Health and safety
  • Care
  • Accidents
  • Environmental
  • Further guidance

Playground regulations for daycare:

Health and safety

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is critical legislation to protect yourself, and the public.

It holds you legally responsible to ensure you avoid exposure to anything that can risk anyone’s health and safety at your business.

To comply with the law, undertake a risk assessment to take steps before you open and continue to reassess them periodically.

The Health and Safety Executive outline a risk assessment as:

  • Identify — find areas that could cause harm (e.g. sharp surface corner)
  • Assess — discover who’s most likely to be at risk (e.g. children running)
  • Control — minimise those risks (sand down corner or cover with foam)
  • Record — add what you do to a document to keep for reference
  • Review — carry out the steps routinely and continue to improve safety

Legal childcare providers must apply through the UK Government for the Early Years Register (if the children are under five years old) or the Childcare Register (if they’re older).

Your local council will send inspectors to ensure the children’s safety, including your ability to provide a risk assessment document.


Another critical set of playground regulations for daycare are the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare. Any inspection from your council will ensure you follow these.

One of the essential standards is that the children are cared for in a safe environment. Those standards extend to play areas.

Indoor play areas must be:

  • Clean and hygienic
  • Let in natural light
  • Well ventilated
  • A temperature of at least 18 degrees centigrade

Outdoor play areas must be:

  • Large enough for free movement
  • Close to a telephone
  • Near a toilet
  • Exclusively for the children

The Children Act 2004 further outlines the fundamental principles you must follow when caring for children within your nursery. These include keeping them:

  • Healthy — exercised and nutritionally fed
  • Happy — entertained and enjoying themselves
  • Safe — minimise the risk of injury or illness
  • Success — educate and develop their skills
  • Positive — provide a good impact on their lives


A safe environment that provides the proper care for children while they play is still unlikely to prevent all accidents. For example, they are still likely to fall over now and again.

Suppose you follow the playground regulations for daycare. In that case, it will mean that they’re less likely to face serious injuries. Still, it would help if you got into the habit of reporting all accidents.

As someone responsible for premises, it’s your legal responsibility to follow the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013

It instructs you to note any injuries or diseases that occur at your nursery. You must report all incidents to be legally compliant. A dangerous occurrence is a circumstance where you avoided a severe accident. 

Your reports must be kept in a physical accident book or a digital document. You can then report all of your incidents to the Health and Safety Executive.

If a parent decides to take legal action against you, then your up-to-date reporting should be available. You must log each incident within ten days and keep them for a minimum of three years.

In each report, make sure you include:

  • Date of report
  • Time and location of the accident
  • Details of those involved
  • Description of what happened


With an outdoor space for the children, you also have specific daycare playground regulations.

To keep the area hygienic, you may decide to use cleaning products so consider the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. 

This regulation ensures that you remove any chemicals or products that could be a potential hazard for children before they play in those areas.

Aside from cleaning, you might also maintain the outdoor areas to avoid pests like rats. So another set of rules to consider is the Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR). 

The guidance is in place to ensure that you do not harm people using any biological products.

That requires you to take any necessary steps to make sure products are out of children’s reach, and they aren’t in use where they could come into contact with them.

Further guidance

The UK Government has further guidance for Managing Risk in Play Prevention, which is not a regulation but can help you prepare the play area before use.

It references the types of playground equipment that you put in your areas. These can include:

  • Slides
  • Climbing frames
  • Swings
  • Carousels
  • Towers
  • Sandpits
  • Balancing equipment

Guidelines advise that you do a risk-benefit analysis for each piece of equipment before incorporating it into the area.

For example:

Benefits — children enjoy slides, and it helps them build confidence to climb.

Risks — children could fall off and hurt themselves but are unlikely to have fractures or breaks because of the low height.

In each scenario, you should think about why it’s essential for the children’s development and if that’s greater than any likely risk. Although, if the chances are too high, you should opt to avoid equipment that could cause them harm.

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