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How to safely shut down your construction site this Christmas

Practical advice to keep your site safe and secure over the festive season

 

Incidents like accidents, theft and vandalism often occur on closed and unattended construction sites, but this is the last thing you want to be dealing with during, or when returning from, a well-earned festive break. 

Dan Goodfellow, Coates Group Manager for Product, shares these tips on keeping your work site safe, secure and incident-free this Christmas.

 

Safely secure your site 

 

Construction sites are hazardous environments even when properly supervised. They’re even more dangerous when left unattended. Unauthorised access during the school holidays presents another safety risk, with construction sites offering many places for curious kids to explore, hide and climb. 

“All too often safety incidents involve hazards like unprotected excavations, unattended scaffolding or unsecured work platforms, that result in serious injuries, even death,” says Dan. “In securing work sites for Christmas, it’s important to remember that you’re liable for whatever happens on site, even when you’re not there.”

To avoid preventable safety incidents:

  • Switch off the power and secure the site switchboard 
  • Ensure suitable fencing is in place and block any gaps under fences and gates 
  • Secure all access points with locks or other mechanical means 
  • Secure partially constructed building elements like walls and roofs
  • Backfill, cover or secure excavations
  • Block access to elevated floors, scaffolding and ladders
  • Remove unwanted construction materials and clear away debris and waste
  • Brace or secure boundary fencing to prevent it from being pushed down, blown down or becoming airborne in strong winds
  • Erect appropriate signage to deter access and provide emergency contact information

 

Visit the Work Safe website for more information on securing your site this Christmas.

 

Prevent theft and vandalism 
 

Theft and vandalism are common issues on Australian construction sites. An estimated $650 million of high-cost construction machinery and materials are stolen from work sites across the country each year. But the cost of theft to your business is not only replacing the stolen items, but the lost time spent waiting to start work too.

To prevent theft, secure or remove these frequently stolen items like these from your site:

  • Timber, bricks and other raw materials
  • Copper piping
  • Electrical wiring
  • Fixtures and fittings (like tapware and electrical appliances)
  • Hot water systems and air conditioners 
  • Hand tools
  • Mobile and hire equipment

 

If you’re concerned about vandalism or you have high value equipment that can’t be removed, consider installing a temporary video surveillance system, such as the Spectur STA6 solar security camera (available from selected Coates branches).

 

Manage your hire equipment 

 

Many businesses choose to keep equipment on hire during shutdowns due to long-term rental agreements, or to ensure equipment will be available when work recommences. 

To protect equipment kept on hire during a shutdown:

  • Keep equipment in a safe area – ideally undercover and away from areas that easily flood 
  • Check all machines are turned off, cabins are locked and keys are removed and safely stored
  • Apply wheel chocks to equipment parked on slopes
  • Turn the gas bottles off on equipment like forklifts
  • Lower the baskets on booms to prevent damage in high winds

 

While standing equipment down on a reduced rate can reduce costs, it can also cause delays to starting back on site when equipment isn’t available. 

If you plan to return your hire equipment:

  • Provide ample warning for your rental company to collect equipment before closure and if you need equipment to be returned for restart
  • Offer clear retrieval instructions, as sites often have a changed or reduced workforce when closing
  • Remember to rebook any hire equipment that you will need again after the Christmas shutdown
  • Equipment on seven-day rental agreements (like site accommodation), cannot be stood down, as the seven day-rate factors in all available and unavailable days of use. Reach out for more information

 

Restarting your construction site 

 

“There’s nothing more frustrating than returning from holiday, only to spend the first few days madly trying to get your site back under control,” says Dan. “Planning ahead ensures your project starts back up smoothly, and your workforce stays safe.”

Follow these steps for a smooth transition back to site:

  • Check you have all the materials you need to recommence work
  • Reconnect utilities switched off during the break
  • Check that the hire equipment you need is still available
  • Make time for safety and risk assessments during prestart as conditions may have changed
  • Confirm that your workforce is available and knows when to start back on site
  • Check that your workforce is mentally and physically switched on before commencing work, as injuries often occur either just before closing or soon after returning from an extended break

 

“At Coates, we take it upon ourselves to help your project run as smoothly and safely as possible,” says Dan. “We offer safe, smart and sustainable solutions to meet your needs, and have the experience to provide best practice advice and equipment solutions for any project.”

 

Connect with Coates for advice on securing your site this Christmas, and for all your equipment needs

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