Ensure Your Site Is Safe During School Holidays

Ensure Your Site Is Safe During School Holidays

Following the tragic death of a 7 year old boy three weeks ago, we feel it prudent to emphasise the heightened risk of children accessing construction sites during school holiday periods.

The young boy was killed when he got stuck in a vertical plastic pipe and his clothing restricted his breathing on a construction site near Barnsley. He went missing after playing with his friends a mile away from the site and about two miles away from his home. He is believed to have left around 8pm and was due to return home but never turned up. His body was found on the site on Monday 27th July.

While the numbers of children being killed or injured on construction sites has reduced in recent years, there is no room for complacency. Each year, two or three children die after gaining access to building sites, and many more are injured.
Under the HSE Guidance document L153 – Managing Health & Safety in Construction, specific reference is made to preventing unauthorised access by children to building sites.

As well as the obvious good practice in prevention of injuries it should be noted that, under UK Health & Safety Law, schoolchildren are treated as invitees on buildings sites and not as trespassers so the usual general duty of care is elevated.

The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM2015) Regulation 13(4)(b) states:-
The principal contractor must ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent access by unauthorised persons to the construction site.

Additionally, Regulation 15(10) states:-
A contractor must not begin work on a construction site unless reasonable steps have been taken to prevent access by unauthorised persons to that site.

Site Boundaries and Preventing Unauthorised Access

All construction sites require:
Measures to manage access across defined boundaries; and
Steps to exclude unauthorised people.

You need to define boundaries physically, where necessary, by suitable fencing. The type of fencing should reflect the nature of the site and its surroundings.

Determining the boundary is an important aspect of managing public risk. You need to:
plan what form the perimeter will take;
provide the fencing; and
maintain the fencing.

Questions you need to ask yourself include:
What is the nature and type of the construction work?
How heavily populated is the area is?
Who will need to visit the site during the work?
Will the site attract children?
What are the site characteristics (eg existing site boundaries, location, proximity to other buildings).

Typically, in populated areas, this will mean a two-metre high small mesh fence or hoarding around the site.

Specific Steps Particularly Relevant to Child Safety

Some children are drawn to construction sites as exciting places to play. You must do everything you can to keep them out of the site and away from danger:-
Secure sites adequately when finishing work for the day.
Barrier off or cover over excavations and pits.
Isolate and immobilise vehicles and plant and if possible lock them in a compound.
Store building materials (such as pipes, manhole rings, and cement bags) so that they cannot topple or roll over.
Remove access ladders from excavations and scaffolds.
Lock away hazardous substances.

Finally, there is little point in creating an exclusion zone and then leaving the gate open.

Our Team of CDM Specialists are on hand for Site Safety Inspections and CDM Audits for your peace of mind. For further information, please call John Okey on 01925 654158.