Last edited 12 Apr 2021

Hoarding for construction sites

Hoarding is a temporary structure of solid construction, erected around the perimeter of construction sites to shield them from view and prevent unauthorised access. It is an important component in ensuring health and safety, for site workers, visitors and the general public and can also be part of a site security system to prevent theft or vandalism.

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.

In addition, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (the CDM Regulations) require the prevention of access by unauthorised persons to construction sites 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.’

The principal contractor must take necessary steps to prevent access by unauthorised persons to the construction site and contractors must not begin work on a construction site unless reasonable steps have been taken to prevent access by unauthorised persons to that site.

Principal contractors should liaise with contractors to define the site boundaries using suitable barriers and take steps to ensure that only those authorised to access the site do so. For projects involving only one contractor, the contractor must do whatever is proportionate to prevent unauthorised access before starting work on the site.

Special consideration will be required for sites that have:

There may also be may be conditions attached to a planning permission setting out specific obligations in relation to the site perimeter.

Perimeter hoarding provides a system for controlled access. Turnstiles, security gates and guards can be used to ensure only authorised personnel can enter. In addition, hoarding might be used to separate different functions within a site, for example creating a barrier between traffic routes and pedestrians.

Hoardings or fences are recommended as being a minimum height of 2.4 m and high security fences at least 3 m. Flat-sided hoardings are more difficult to climb than fencing and prevent viewing of the site interior. Where fences are used, the type selected should not help climbers by offering hand and foot holds.

Angled extensions (‘fans’) on top of hoardings make climbing difficult and can reduce problems with material (including litter) being thrown over the hoarding and potentially damaging materials or injuring site workers Intruders may also attempt to burrow under a boundary. Placing hoardings along existing concrete surfaces can deter against this.

Hoarding can also help to make sites less intrusive and more aesthetically pleasing to people living and working in close proximity, and can minimise disturbances and improve privacy, both for the general public and for workers on site.

Hoarding can be a temporary or long-term installation and may be free-standing, or built into the site. It is important that it is structurally stable, as it can be exposed to strong wind loads, or impact.

It can be a modular system or a bespoke installation and can be made using a wide range of materials such as steel, timber or plywood which may be re-useable or disposable.

Hoarding can include barriers, gates, viewing windows, areas of fencing and so on and may be used to display warning and information signs.

It can be branded, used for marketing and promotion to advertise the contractor or developer, or can be used to show people what the completed project will look like and how it will impact the local area.

Hoarding must be regularly inspected to ensure its continued integrity, and may be modified during the course of construction works as site requirements change.

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