Securing construction sites with fencing or hoarding is not just about keeping intruders out; it is also vital for ensuring the safety of the general public and passers-by. Furthermore, there are a number of requirements that are enforced by regulation and law that builders and construction firms must adhere to. In this article, we find out a little bit more about the regulations, and what they can mean for those in the construction industry.
What are the health and safety regulations for the construction industry?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation in Great Britain that sets out employers’ obligations towards the health and safety of their employees and the public. It stipulates that all employers and the self-employed must take reasonably practical steps to ensure the health and safety of the general public. As such, this Act implies the need for hoarding or fencing around the perimeter of construction sites, even if it doesn’t explicitly state it.
The need for secure fencing around construction sites was previously made clear within the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. This defined the legal obligations for UK construction sites, so that they could operate safely. These regulations were superseded by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, introduced by the Health and Safety Executive’s Construction Division. The updated regulations place specific duties on clients, designers and contractors to plan their approach to health and safety throughout the entire lifecycle of a project – from planning to demolition, construction and removal.
Within the updated Regulations, the specific sections relating to safety hoarding and fencing are:
Section 17 – Safe places of construction work
This regulation states that action must be taken to ensure that no person gains access to the construction site unless they have authorisation to do so, and that the site must be must be made and kept safe for people working there.
This can be interpreted as meaning preventing members of the public from entering the site as they pass by, and ensuring that only authorised workers and delivery drivers are allowed on site. While a perimeter fence or site hoarding will stop anyone accessing a site, this regulation is largely in place to ensure there is some sort of controlled access system in place as well as the fence, either through a secure gate, security guard or a turnstile system, for example.
Section 18 – Good order and site security
This regulation sets out the standards for cleanliness on construction sites and highlights the requirement for clear perimeter safety signage and fencing. To use an example from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) itself, pavement works in the street might be surrounded by temporary barriers, while a larger construction site is more likely to require hoarding because of the higher risk of potential hazards.
Subsequent sections of the Regulations (19-35) also make reference to situations where safety fencing and hoarding may be suitable protective measures, such as during demolition, excavations, or where there is a risk of drowning. Other instances, listed in the Regulations, where safety fencing and hoarding may be used include creating temporary traffic routes, restricting vehicle access, and creating emergency routes and exits.
Securing the site perimeter – advice from the Health and Safety Executive
In their ‘Protecting the public’ book, the HSE set out a summary of what contractors are required to do in terms of planning, provision and maintenance of site perimeters. Sufficient planning must be carried out, including identification of the hazards and assessing the risk, defining the perimeter of the site to be protected and identifying what hoarding, fencing or other type of identification or security is needed. The contractor must then provide by erecting the chosen fencing, as well as displaying sufficient warning and information signs. Finally, the site must be maintained by making sure the fences etc. are regularly inspected for necessary maintenance work, and modified accordingly as the site’s use changes.
For more information about these guidelines, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk.
Not only does appropriate site hoarding and perimeter fencing get you on your way to meeting the requirements of the CDM and HSE regulations, it can also provide a whole host of other benefits, including security against damage or theft by intruders. It can also help make the site look less intrusive and more aesthetically pleasing to those living in the vicinity of the site. If you’re not sure what types of hoarding or fencing might be best for your needs, take a look at our article on different types of security fencing in our Knowledge Base.