As well as looking out for the welfare of their workers, all construction businesses have a responsibility to protect members of the public when they are working on a job.
When talking about small construction projects, this can be even more vital as there may be less security, they are in more residential or built up areas, or there may be contract workers who also need to abide by the rules.
Construction sites are required by law to ensure any work is done in a manner that ensures citizens are not put at risk. The client or project co-ordinator has to assess boundaries and access, as well as how any land surrounding the construction site it used. These aspects can then be used to establish measures to ensure unauthorised individuals cannot gain access to the site.
What are the risks to the public from a small construction site?
Mismanagement of materials
Contractors that use tool hire will need to ensure the equipment is stored and utilised correctly as materials and tools falling outside of the boundaries of the site can be one of the main causes of injuries to the public.
This is especially relevant when working from height, so if there are any towers or scaffolding around the fence boundaries, special care needs to be taken to avoid dropping tools such as hammers, screwdrivers and other handheld tools. Toe boards, netting and brick guards are a great idea to put in place.
Scaffolding also needs to be managed well during erection and dismantling.
Moving vehicles can also cause incidents. Any vehicles leaving or coming on to a site will have to come from public access road, and across footpaths and roads to reach the entry gate. In particularly residential or built up areas, this can create hazards, especially if children or the elderly are in the area.
Children in particular can be at risk of trespassing building sites as many will view the areas as exciting places to explore. Although there has been a decline in the number of young people killed or injured on construction sites, the HSE notes there is no room for complacency and this is why safety is paramount.
General trespassing or those breaking in to the site can also be at risk of safety hazards. While trespassing is illegal, if your site is not secure and then found not to have been a safe place for workers, you could get into trouble.
Managing site boundaries
To prevent people from accessing a construction site without authorisation, there are certain things small construction companies should consider. The first is how densely the surrounding area is populated, as well as the nature of the project and whether it is likely to attract interest from members of the public.
By erecting a two-metre-high fence around the site, small businesses can help to tackle some of these issues. They must also ensure authorised personal are aware of the rules and who has permission to enter the premises.
You may wish to limit access points, meaning they can be better controlled. Fencing needs to be maintained, and can't be attractive to children; you may wish to stick to plain hoarding as opposed to decorative.
The elderly and disabled people can also be at risk and if a project is being carried out at a site such as a hospital, their welfare needs to be taken into consideration when planning the work. Construction areas must be adequately secured at the end of the day, while any excavations and pits need to be protected with barriers.
The elderly, children and those with certain disabilities will need particular attention. Work taking place around schools, hospitals, residential areas and other businesses will have to be particularly thought out.
You must do all you can to keep them out of danger, which may involve going above and beyond. Signs giving people the opportunity to read about a manhole in 100 yards isn't good for anyone unlikely to read or who can't read, so you will still need to erect barriers, and other protective guards.
You also need to ensure all paths and roads can be clear at all time. Ensure stored goods can't topple or roll over, and that there is enough space for wheelchairs, buggies, frames and groups of schoolchildren for example.
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