Topics explained – Site security

Unauthorised visitors to a construction site may be unfamiliar with, or have no understanding of, the safety risks they may be exposed to. 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.

PCBU 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 (eg 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.

Risk assessment

The requirement to secure a construction site will be obvious in some situations, for example, construction work performed adjacent to a playground. Due to the natural curiosity of children the likelihood of unauthorised access is high, meaning the workplace must be secured from unauthorised access.

However, construction sites in a remote area are unlikely to be exposed to unauthorised access, therefore the implementation of site security is optional.

Similarly, residential construction work performed in a suburban street, where the likelihood of access is minimal and risks are low (eg a single storey dwelling with no excavations), a secure access system may not be needed.

For a building site to be considered ‘secured’ (defined as ‘made secure’ or ‘fastened’), the security system must be sufficiently robust to prevent access.

Bunting or plastic strips do not prevent access, and are therefore unacceptable. A security system needs to be a rigid structure, such as a fence.