Conduct a risk assessment
Cushion said: “Like any other aspect of a licensee's business, this should be one of the first steps and should determine what the risks are.”
Think like a child
Children may not make the same reasoned decisions that reasoned adults do, he explained. Therefore, you have got to “look for obvious hazards”, like things that are sharp at a lower level. “It's quite common sense that kids are going to run around and not look at what they are doing.”
Regularly check the outdoor areas
Part of a licensee’s risk assessment should be around the introduction of foreign objects overnight when the area is not in use. Cushion said: “The only way you can do that is by having regular inspections not only prior to the area being used, but also at regular intervals when the area is in use. Staff members will be moving around to collect glasses and deliver meals and they can be instructed to keep a passing eye on kids' areas as an extra duty.”
Signage saying that parents are responsible for keeping an eye on their children at all times would not fully absolve the pub in the event of a claim, Cushion said, but it is certainly going to mitigate it to some extent.
Engage with your local environmental health officer
“This may give you extra Brownie points in the event of a claim. They may well have guidance or be prepared to offer assistance in assessing the area in question,” he told The Morning Advertiser.
Check the pub complies with building regulations
When your pub was built it should have been checked and given a building regulations certification either by a private contractor or the local authority. However, Cushion explained, that means the last building regulations assessment could have been made at a time when pubs were, generally, the domain of male adults, whereas nowadays they are designed to be more family friendly.
CCTV can aid supervision
He said: “It is on balance in the licensee's interest to have children's play areas covered by CCTV. That could ultimately be used against the licensee, but it may also exonerate them. If you're doing everything you can do to make the area a safe environment then something should only go wrong because of something outside of your control, in which case there should be no problem with there being CCTV evidence.”
Keep an incident log
If there is any kind of accident, injury or anything like that then it should be recorded.
Check the first aid kit
Cushion said: “With the best will in the world, kids can injure themselves just about anywhere so a well-stocked first aid kit prepares you for that. On top of that, it is good practice to have a first aid-trained member of staff at all times.”