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Safety fencing on building sites saves lives

Safety fencing and safety barricading saves lives and is as important for the people working on construction sites as it is for civilians in the street. As a result Regulation 298 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 requires that:

“a  person with management or control of a workplace at which work is carried out must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is secured from unauthorized access”. 

This regulation ensures that Joe Soap will not be exposed to dangerous situations resulting from building work on homes and buildings.  The regulation is cognizant of the fact that different types of buildings have different dangers.


The safety regulation applied to construction, renovations or extension of:

1)  detached houses, and

2) semi-detached homes

3) apartment buildings

4) boarding and guest houses, hostels

5) buildings not inhabited by people like garages, carports, sheds


Houses under Renovation

If people are living in a house whilst it is being renovated then the risks should be weighed up in determining whether security fences or security barricades should be used.


Who takes the responsibility for installing safety fencing?  The answer here is clear: the onus falls on the principal contractor as he or she is responsible for the safety of those people in or around the building site.

Factors to determine when fencing is required

The general public is not aware of the dangers that may exist on or around a building site.

The general public may ignore or not read warning signs on or around a building site

The general public may not realize the severity of the risks that occur on or around a building site   

What are the risks to the public?

  • severe injury from falling scaffolding or equipment
  • electric cables can cause electric shock
  • drowning in pits or pools where  water has collected
  • tripping over equipment or uneven ground
  • hanging cables or steel pipes
  • falling off unfinished balconies or stairs

When a building is in progress it is very difficult to keep the area safe and hazard – free.

Safety fencing is therefore a neat, affordable way of keeping dangerous situations at bay.  There is no question that fencing is an easy way of keeping a building site as safe as possible and there is no question that contractors should install fencing around a building especially when it is:

  • near a school
  • in a built up urban area with lots of passing traffic ( people on foot and passing vehicles)
  • close to parks and recreational areas or shopping centres

The type of fence to be installed

The following factors should be taken into consideration for safety all round:

  • high enough so people (especially children) cannot climb over it
  • of a design that makes it difficult to climb
  • strong enough that one cannot climb underneath it, possibly with reinforcement at the bottom
  • strong enough to withstand the elements
  • gates or joints should not provide a security threat

Contractor’s Duties

The principle contractor has a number of duties under the regulations. One of them is to provide signage that can be easily seen from outside the construction site.  This signage must specify the contractor’s name and telephone number as well as an after- hours number. 


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