WorkCover NSW is urging builders and construction companies to ensure children are kept off and away from hazardous construction sites during the school holidays. This holiday safety reminder by WorkCover NSW follows the death of an eight-year-old last December when a stack of concrete panels being used to build a sound barrier fell on him. 

Acting Executive Director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, Jodie Deakes said that children were being brought onto construction sites during holidays, exposing them to risk of serious injury and even death. Urging the industry to stop the practice, Ms Deakes observed that the construction sector was one of the State’s highest risk industries, and the environment was no place for children, even if there was pressure of work deadlines and no one to mind the child.

Commenting that construction companies must have systems and contingency plans in place to prevent incidents, she said that construction industry inspectors will be visiting sites during these holidays to ensure children are not present, and check that construction companies have installed systems to ensure safety at unattended sites.

Ms Deakes said there were a number of actions site controllers could take to make unattended sites safe and secure. This is particularly important for building sites in and around residential areas as there are more children in the vicinity due to school holidays.

She advised site controllers to install site perimeter fencing, secured in a way that minimised unauthorised entry. The fencing should be without gaps and locked up when the day’s work was complete.

Other actions include ensuring power is turned off; blocking access to elevated floors, scaffolding and ladders; and storing plant and equipment, tools, chemicals and dangerous goods securely. Site controllers should also empty water drums, cover pits, trenches and pier holes, and erect appropriate signage, including an after-hours contact number.

According to Ms Deakes, these steps will minimise risk of access by children, and prevent recurrence of a similar tragedy while also reducing the likelihood of theft of valuable building materials from the site.