Fences Required Around All Construction Work

Problem:

In some areas (e.g. Queensland, Australia) it is a legal requirement that a safety fence (or security fence) be put up around all construction work. There are often legal regulations in place by the state or the country. This includes temporary works.

Many people think this is not necessary, but it is required, even within a larger site with an existing fence (e.g. construction works within a sports ground with an external fence still needs a fence around the actual works).

If an injury happens where there is no fence, much larger penalties can apply to the constructor and owner.

The type, extent and strength of this fencing should usually be determined by a safety assessment.

Solution:

It is quite obvious what the solution to this is.

Assemble a fence around the works area for all your construction or temporary works areas.

This usually means a metal temporary fence that is not easy for people to get through. Plastic warning tape and often even low plastic barrier mesh  is often not enough, depending on a risk assessment. However, there may be instances where barrier mesh is permissible.

My (non expert) understanding is that a risk assessment should be done and the type of fencing be appropriate to those assessed risks.

For example, plastic barrier mesh may be adequate in a construction area within an already securely fenced off area with no public access and no children nearby. However, if you are doing construction works in a school ground, then a proper security fencing would probably be required around that works, including that it not be easily climbed or accessed under, over or between.

Some areas of risk that should be assessed (and addressed with security fencing or exclusion areas) include:

  • Children nearby (schools, shopping centres, play grounds, parks)
  • Excavation on site
  • Public area (roads, parks etc)
  • Non-public areas such as construction already being in a securely fenced area (in this case exclusion mesh might be assessed as being sufficient).
  • Hazardous materials
  • Plant and equipment
  • Exposure to electricity or services

My opinion is that you should also plan for the costs and time required for these risk assessments and installation of appropriate fencing. Make these allowances as early as you can in the project planning. Especially allow for it in your quote for the project.

Communicate who (which team member or contractor) is responsible to do this.

Do regular reviews of the risks and also of the actual fence, to ensure that the risks are adequately addressed and also that the fence is still securely in place. I have seen many work sites which have installed security fences but where a fence panel gets knocked over and isn’t put back in position for days or even weeks.

Lesson:

Assess the safety risks for works areas and ensure that your project puts adequate safety or security fencing in place.

Allow for sufficient cost and time budget to allow for the risk assessments, fence installation, and maintenance to be done.

In many countries this is a legal requirement, with project and personal penalties for non-compliance.

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