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April 11, 2023

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Proper site security can prevent further tragedy, says SafeSite Facilities

SHP hears from SafeSite Facilities who discuss the impact of inadequate security which can increase the risk of incidents on construction sites.

The tragic death of a young child on a construction site has prompted the HSE to remind the construction business of the importance of site security.

Leeds construction company Howard Civil Engineering admitted safety lapses that resulted in the tragic death of seven-year-old Conley Thompson and a £600,000 fine for the firm.

A Health & Safety Executive inquiry revealed that Conley had become caught in a discharge pipe embedded in soil ahead of fence post instalment, tragically suffocating.

The inquiry found inadequate fencing to stop unauthorised entry to the scene, holding Howard Civil Engineering liable in not meeting fencing requirements.

A legal duty to secure sites

Even if a third party intrudes unlawfully to perpetrate a crime – unlike in the tragic case above – if they are injured, the site’s owner might still wind up in court.

Businesses that own property must take precautions under the Occupiers’ Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 to protect the premises. Under this legislation, the landowner is responsible for protecting people on that land, whether they’re authorised visitors or not.

In extreme cases where the trespasser is on the property with criminal intent, there may still be a prosecution against the building firm, should they come to harm.

A worrying trend

While children may innocently enter a construction site thinking it’s a good place to play, the prominence of social media has resulted in an upsurge in trespassing incidents for others too.

In the last three years, organisations such as Sir Robert McAlpine, Quintain and Multiplex had to obtain injunctions to stop “urban explorers” from accessing sites to perform climbing activities and record videos.

Many contractors are compelled to seek injunctions to safeguard their building sites from incursions since trespassing itself is not a statutory crime. The sole means of prosecuting an offender is to get an injunction, which makes the intruder liable for contempt of court.

The expense involved in securing an injunction is in the region of £30,000 per construction site.

Firms must erect sufficient security

The industry itself is particularly prone to dangerous situations, says Adam, SafeSite Facilities‘ Technical Manager, but there are solutions to ensure authorised entry:

“The law says that companies must erect fencing to prevent trespassing. This case was a particularly tragic example, but there’s nothing to stop action from being taken against the firm, even if it were an adult entering with the intent to steal.

“The onus is on construction companies to take the precautions needed to stop trespassing happening in the first place. Perimeter hoarding and CCTV systems are the ideal solutions to stop people entering whatever their intentions.”


Construction site fencing conceals ongoing operations, making the scene less attractive to wandering youths and criminals. These hoardings are generally supplied as buried and freestanding wooden panels, steel panels and water-filled barriers.

Barriers like these are legally necessary on building sites. They are helpful for aesthetic purposes, to allow everyday activities to proceed normally around the building area, and to promote site safety and public security.

Industry ‘must do all it can’

Speaking after the inquiry, HSE Inspector Paul Yeadon told Construction News:

“The industry must do all it can to ensure children can’t access construction sites and be exposed to the inherent risks they present to prevent further tragedies like this.”

The importance of proper hoardings as a legal necessity cannot be overestimated.

When combined with cutting-edge security cameras and scaffold alert systems, construction can get on with business knowing they’re doing all they can to keep the public safe.

SafeSite Facilities’ CCTV and intruder alarms

SafeSite Facilities offer CCTV towers, standalone, and mobile wireless camera systems along with concrete barriers as methods for construction site security.

These systems feature trespass detection with automatic alarms and spoken warnings, which are designed to make intruders realise they are being watched in ‘real time’. The cameras can be remotely monitored, enabling security staff to be dispatched to a specific location ‘as fast as possible’.

The firm also has wireless detection cameras that use Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is said to not require ‘WiFi nor the power grid’ to function, aimed to be suitable for rural areas, vacant properties with no power, and building sites.

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