Keep unoccupied sites safe, warns IOSH

With schools across the UK having now broken up for the summer holidays, IOSH is urging building site contractors to make sure they secure their unoccupied sites to prevent people trespassing on them and putting their lives in danger.

The warning comes just two weeks after a 10-year-old boy died following an accident at a site in Glasgow. While the cause of that incident is subject to investigation, IOSH says those in charge of construction sites must have measures in place to stop people accessing sites when they are not in operation.

While construction sites are focusing on managing the risks of COVID-19 transmission, they must remain vigilant with other health and safety risks.

‘Just saying you shouldn’t go onto a building site to children will often not be enough,’ said Malcolm Shiels, chair of IOSH’s Construction Group. ‘Boredom, peer pressure, the perceptive appeal of excitement and an apparent ready-made ‘playground’ could all be in the minds of children if they live close by or regularly pass a construction site.


‘If they do access a site, they are putting their lives in danger. There are numerous risks they face on sites, such as excavations, machinery and hazardous substances.

‘The best deterrents are education and a secure site provided by the principal contractor and IOSH urges all contractors to ensure their site is secure and prevents children being able to gain access.”

Measures contractors can take include boundary fencing at least two metres high as well as covering excavations and pits and removing access ladders. Building materials such as cement bags should be stored safely, so they don’t fall over, and hazardous substances should be locked away.

Malcolm also encourages parents to warn children about the dangers of accessing sites, and suggest arranging visits to sites for children so they can see the dangers themselves.