Unauthorised visitors to a construction site may be unfamiliar with the dangers present, or may have no understanding of the safety risks to which they may be exposed. These risks can include:
- falls from buildings, scaffolding or open excavations
- protruding reinforcement bars
- collapsing material causing suffocation or crushing
- contact with hazardous substances and plant.
A person with management or control of a workplace at which construction work is carried out must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the site is secured from unauthorised access, taking particular note of:
- potential risks to health and safety arising from unauthorised access
- the likelihood of unauthorised access occurring (e.g. proximity to places frequented by children, including schools, parks and shopping precincts)
- the extent to which unauthorised access cannot be prevented
- how to isolate hazards within the workplace.
In some situations the requirement for securing a construction site will be obvious e.g. construction work adjacent to a playground, where it is likely that children could wander onto the site and be exposed to hazards present. There is both likelihood and risk in this situation, and therefore the workplace needs to be secured from unauthorised access.
By contrast, if the same construction site was in a remote area, with no nearby houses or facilities for children, unauthorised access is unlikely so the person in control of the site may choose not to secure it.
In a suburban street, where the likelihood of access is minimal and risks are low (e.g. a single storey dwelling, with no excavations), a secure access system may not be needed.
When considering the method of securing the site from unauthorised access, the word 'secured' has its normal meaning of 'made secure' or 'fastened'. This means the security system must be sufficiently robust to prevent access. Using bunting or plastic strips does not achieve this and is therefore unacceptable. The security system needs to be a rigid structure, such as a fence.