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.