School’s Out for Summer – Kids and Construction Site Safety
The long school summer holidays are once again upon us with parents across the UK looking for ways in which to keep their kids entertained during the break. While there are several options for keeping the children occupied, not all of these last the whole of the summer holidays and in some areas, children are left to their own devices as they look for ways to fill the long, hot summer days.
Most of these kids will be supervised and safe during their time off school. However, some children manage to escape the watchful eye of their elders and welcome the opportunity for an adventure as they explore their local surroundings. Inevitably, construction sites attract kids – cool looking diggers and earth movers, scaffolding that puts kids in mind of the jungle gyms they play on in the parks. On the odd occasion, children will manage to gain access to a construction site, which puts them at risk.
According to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) each year two or three children die here in the UK after managing to gain access to building sites and many more are injured. Although the number of fatalities has gone down in recent years, deaths do still occur on an annual basis and these are deaths that could be avoided.
If you think back to your own childhood, it’s probably easy to see why construction sites hold such an appeal for youngsters looking for somewhere to play – they look interesting and exciting and are usually full of items and equipment that looks as if they would serve as pretty handy swings or climbing frames. However, building sites are definitely not playgrounds and anybody who enters a site unauthorised is taking a risk.
While there are steps that businesses and construction site managers can take to make a site more secure and prevent children from gaining access, we have to remember that kids can be quite resourceful and they fit through smaller spaces than adults do. Before leaving for the day, managers should make sure that they lock away hazardous substances and that ladders and other access equipment are removed and stored safely where possible. It’s also vital that building sites are securely locked, that fences are regularly inspected for damage, etc.
Another great way of preventing children accessing building sites is for local businesses to engage with the local schools and communities to ensure that children and their parents are fully aware of just how dangerous a building site really is. Children are the responsibility of their parents and, as such, it really is up to the parents to know where their children are playing. As parents, if we allow our kids to play away from the home unsupervised, then it’s vital to make sure we make them aware of the dangers of entering any piece of land, building or site when they are not authorised to do so.
If you’re responsible for a construction site, then being on the lookout for kids watching the activity would be a good idea. Be aware of any group of children who are watching the building work and just make sure that they cannot access the construction site, especially during non-working hours.