Last edited 18 Feb 2021

Access to construction sites


Construction sites can be dangerous places, and only authorised personnel should be allowed access. Dangers to non-authorised personnel include:

In addition, construction sites can be vulnerable to vandalism, theft, arson, protests, suidices and so on.

However, construction sites present a challenge in terms of securing access as:

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (the CDM Regulations) require the prevention of access to construction sites by unauthorised persons, and that:

‘… where necessary in the interests of health and safety, a construction site must, so far as is reasonably practicable, and in accordance with the level of risk posed, comply with either or both of the following; have its perimeter identified by suitable signs and be arranged so that its extent is readily identifiable; or be fenced off.'

In addition, The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires that employers take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of persons other than their employees, which implies a duty to ensure people are safe from activities on construction sites.

Construction sites will generally adopt perimeter security measures to control access, both for safety purposes, and to prevent damage, theft or vandalism.

Perimeter hoarding or security fencing generally creates the primary boundary for controlling access. Hoarding is a temporary construction, of at least 2.4m that is more difficult to climb than fencing and prevents viewing of the site interior. However, can also prevent people from seeing unauthorised personnel if they manage to gain access to the site. For more information, see Hoarding.

In situations where the perimeter is considered to be particularly vulnerable, for example to vehicle ramming, additional barriers may be required, such as a trenches, high kerbs, steel posts, bollards and so on. In addition, a more sophisticated perimeter intrusion detection system (PIDS) may be installed, and/or 24-hour guards.

Turnstiles, security gates and guards can then be used to ensure that only authorised personnel can enter. This may include the use of electronic access control systems (ACS) such as:

  • PIN codes.
  • Magnetic identity cards.
  • Proximity tokens.
  • Biometric devices.

In addition to controlling access, ACS can also provide up-to-date and accurate accounting for on-site personnel and can assist with controlling health and safety.

Other measures might include signage, sign-in and reception areas, storing materials and plant away from the perimeter, lighting, CCTV, motion detectors, monitored alarms, locks, removal of ladders, protection of scaffolding, public address systems, keeping the site clean and tidy, secure storage, and so on.

Special measures may be necessary for works in the vicinity of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities. Children in particular may be drawn to construction sites, seeing them as places to play.

Management systems are then necessary to ensure that visits to site are scheduled, workers and visitors are given a proper site induction and appropriate site accreditation, staff are trained, proper records are kept and so on. It may also be possible to limit the amount of access that is required, for example by requiring that the workforce park off-site, adopting off-site prefabrication construction techniques, the use of a construction consolidation centre (CCC), and so on.

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