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Securing a residential building site and building work

Construction site shutdown due to COVID-19 requires a building site to be secured and safe. HIA have detailed the responsibilities for builders to safety management the site and all building works during a mandatory shut down period.

Where work has commenced on a residential building site, the builder is responsible for the ongoing protection and safety management of the site and all building works during a mandatory shut down period. 

There are a range of matters beyond the building site that members will also need to manage in relation to the client, employees, trade contractors, suppliers, insurance and finance. This information sheet and checklist outlines matters to consider in the physical closing of a building site. 

Making the site & building work safe

The builder needs to ensure the security and safety of a building site and of all building works during a shutdown. 

Ensure the building structure is safe 

  1. Ensure adequate temporary bracing is in place for all framing including roof trusses or freestanding wall sections. 
  2. Lay down or stack any unsecured framing, roofing or wall sections. 
  3. Install or check temporary propping where required on framing, with particular emphasis on any significant load points or where you are unable to secure the frame.
  4. Make the building weather tight as appropriate and specifically where it would otherwise result in a detrimental impact on the building structure (read HIA’s Leaving timber frames exposed to the weather information sheet). 
  5. Adequately fix off or secure any temporary fixings for cladding and roofing to ensure it is securely fastened so it will not become dislodged in any high wind occurrence.
  6. Install necessary capping or flashing to make the building weather tight.
  7. Redistribute any temporary loading of scaffolding or roofing of bulk materials, i.e bricks, tiles, insulation. 
  8. Where possible, apply temporary hoardings to adequately protect or screen any building wraps that would otherwise become dislodged. 
  9. Cap or make safe any exposed reinforcement steel. 
  10. Cover any voids or openings with appropriate barriers. 
  11. For home renovations, install secure weather protection measures. 

Check and update existing site signs

  1. Ensure your existing builders site sign is legible and in an appropriate location.
  2. Ensure the builder’s site sign has the correct contact details while the site is shut down.
  3. Consider the need for any additional signage including information regarding the reason the site is shut and a contact person. For example: 

This residential building site is closed due to the Government’s mandatory shut down. This site is not a completed structure and presents significant safety hazards. Please do not enter unless authorised.

For further information or to report unauthorised entry please contact [insert your business contact].

Ensure the site is safe and secure 

Before leaving the site, make sure that it is safe and secure by: 

  1. Checking that all loose items such as unfixed materials, equipment and appliances are stored out of view from the street, locked away or removed from site, to minimise the potential for theft or injury.
  2. Carrying out a risk assessment of the site for any hazards or potential hazards while the site is closed and make safe.
  3. Ensuring the site is secure with fencing intact and gate locks functioning to prevent unauthorized entry. 
  4. If the site is unfenced, consider installing a permanent or semi-permanent fence around the site where it is:
    • near a school or route where children travel to and from school;
    • lose to parks and recreational areas;
    • in a built up area.

Secure all plant and equipment that is to remain on site

  1. Before leaving the site making arrangements to return, dismantle or take down plant that can be removed from site or to make safe all plant and equipment that is to remain on site during the lockdown such as:
    • Skips/waste bins
    • Scaffolds
    • Temporary toilets
    • Any other plant and equipment
  2. Where practical arrange for equipment on hire to be returned to the supplier or seek to negotiate a reduced rate during the shutdown period.

Carry out regular inspections while the site is shutdown

Builders need consider the best way to monitor a closed building site to ensure that no damage has occurred. 

Should damage occur to the site security measures or the site, steps should be taken to ‘make good’ the damaged area and ensure there is no unsafe areas or areas that have the potential to cause further damage to the building or the public.

HIA recommends that you:

  1. arrange for someone to inspect the site every 3 days and carry out an inspection using the following checklist.
  2. ensure the checklist is kept as a record of the state of the site at that point in time.

HIA site shut down checklist

Have you: 

  • ensured the building structure is safe and secure?
  • removed any fuel and hazardous chemicals? 
  • turned off power where possible or implemented measures to prevent access to temporary electrical switchboards?
  • closed off any height access points and removed access to ladders and scaffolds? 
  • secured voids, filled in or secured trenches and excavations? 
  • considered how to reduce risks associated with stored construction materials?
  • cleaned up debris to reduce weather creating windblown waste or hazards?
  • installed or repaired site fencing and locks?
  • installed or updated existing site sign with current contact phone numbers?
  • made arrangements to return to the supplier or dismantle any plant or equipment that is not required during the shutdown?
  • established a regular site inspections routine to monitor site safety and security?
  • checked your public liability and contract works insurance policy for how the site is protected when closed?
  • notified your home warranty insurance provider that work has ceased?
  • communicated with your customer about the next steps that you will take to make their building site safe while it is closed?
  • communicated with your customer about the contract arrangements, invoices and payments?
  • issued a payment claim to the home owner for the most recent payment stage (where permitted under the contract)?
  • contacted all suppliers to defer deliveries to site or made arrangements for any expected deliveries to be stored safely either on site or elsewhere during the shutdown?

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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