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Security of workplaces in South Australia

In South Australia, the information below provides information on the requirements under the Work Health & Safety Act 2012 for Security of Workplace.

What does the law require for ‘security of workplaces’? 

Regulation 298 of the Work Health & Safety Regulations states: 

    298 Security of workplace

    (1) A person with management or control of a workplace at which construction work is carried out must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is secured from unauthorised access. Maximum penalty:

      (a)  In the case of an individual – $3600

      (b)  In the case of a body corporate – $18,000

    (2) In complying with sub regulation (1), the person must have regard to all relevant matters including:

      (a)  Risks to health and safety arising from unauthorised access to the workplace

      (b)  The likelihood of unauthorised access occurring

    Example:

    The proximity of the workplace to places frequented by children, including schools, parks and shopping precincts.

      (c) To the extent that unauthorised access to the workplace cannot be prevented – how to isolate hazards within the workplace.

How to secure a workplace

SafeWork SA has advised that the most critical step in determining how to secure a workplace is to firstly undertake a risk assessment with the intent to identify and isolate the risks. Builders and sub-contractors (acting as PCBUs) should establish clear and concise policies to guide staff when undertaking a site security risk assessment.

This should be considered in the early stages of discussions with the client and certainly before signing of the contract. A  builder should not be seeking variations for safety requirements after the contract is signed as site security should be built into the contract.

In assessing the risk, PCBUs must have regard to:

  • the risk to health and safety arising from unauthorised access to the workplace
  • the likelihood of unauthorised access occurring (for example, the proximity of the site to places frequented by children, including schools, parks and shopping centres)
  • the extent that unauthorised access to the site cannot be prevented – how to isolate hazards.

Isolating the risks with perimeter fencing

A common solution for site security is the installation of a traditional 1800mm-high temporary perimeter fence. However, this may not always offer the appropriate protection. For example, a vacant block of land in a new subdivision or after the demolition of an existing structure is unlikely to have a risk that requires isolation. The PCBU needs to determine the most practical solution based on the individual site and existing and future security risks.

A person with management or control of a construction site must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that ‘any’ risk to health and safety arising from unauthorised access is isolated at the end of each work period. Where the risk assessment identifies the need to isolate particular site hazards and the only way to achieve this is with perimeter fencing, the safety and security fencing should:

  • be constructed from suitable, dedicated materials with no holes or gaps
  • prevent access under or through the fence during construction period
  • be erected within boundaries of the constructions site
  • have fence fittings, including clamps installed securely
  • have gates provided with the same level of security as the fence
  • have locks and chains fitted for added site security and safety
  • ensure the fence has been closed, secure and safe at the completion of each day.

What happens when a fence isn’t practicable?

Where it is not practicable to use temporary fencing due to restricted site access, restricted space or the fence becoming an additional hazard, consideration should be given to:

  • barricading off the hazards area with suitable high-vis barrier mesh fixed to star droppers
  • covering an excavation to withstand all loads likely to be imposed
  • securing access ladders, etc.
  • a combination of measures.

One example of an alternative security solution that is commonly raised relates to the situation where an average footing excavation in new subdivisions isolated from occupied dwellings, without reinforcement bars or pins that create impalement hazards, has been constructed.

In this situation perimeter flagging may be the most practical option. However, as the site hazards increase, barrier mesh fixed to star droppers or perimeter fencing may be more appropriate. The construction of footings in existing occupied areas, or where children may be present, requires a risk assessment addressing the items listed above to determine the most practical and secure method of isolation.

Achieving security of the workplace generally requires the  installation of temporary perimeter fencing from the very first activity on site until completion of all building work.

This may not be the case in all circumstances and the PCBU may consider that the risk has been removed at some point during the building work, such as when the house is at lock up. Builders may have other reasons, such as the prevention of theft or the control of materials/waste products, to maintain perimeter fencing.

Another instance may be the construction of a new in-ground swimming pool where a compliant swimming pool safety fence must be in place prior to the placement of water in the pool and where the existing boundary fences for the home already exist. While traditional site temporary fences do not comply with a required swimming pool safety fence, the pool fence once installed and/or the boundary fences where they already exist may be considered to perform appropriately as site security.

It is now common practice on small allotments (3.8m wide) to build boundary to boundary, where the Building Code of Australia (BCA) requires the external face of the wall and the footing to be situated on the line of the boundary. In these situations where the adjoining property is not in the ownership of the building owner it may not be possible to erect temporary fencing because there is no right of entry. Or if the adjoining buildings have already been constructed then a perimeter fence will not be possible.

This may also occur where the new building abuts the front boundary and any fencing or hoarding would occupy the public footpath, requiring permits and fees through the local government authority.

Alterations and/or additions to existing residential properties where the owner and family remain in occupation is also a ‘construction activity’ that requires the risk to be isolated from the family activities. This would include building work for Class 10a structures such as carports, verandahs and entertainment areas. Again, the PCBU needs to consider how this should be provided where the parts of the home continue to be lived in, while construction work occurs. 

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

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