Unoccupied and abandoned construction sites – an actual and immediately risk
The shutdown of the construction industry has led to a situation whereby hundreds of construction sites are basically unoccupied and abandoned – no workers coming and going and in many cases there is no security guard or adequate perimeter fence. This is particularly relevant in the case of National Outline Plan 38 project construction sites in apartment buildings which continue to be inhabited (a matter we shall elaborate on later).
An unoccupied construction site is exposed to various risks, with specific reference to unauthorised entry by curious passers-by, children playing, homeless people, drug addicts or vandals. Contractors and developers beware! You are liable to compensate anyone who is injured on the site.
The Torts Ordinance imputes liability on the owner of the land or the property (the owner of the construction site in this case), even in the case of trespassing, provided that the injured person can prove that they entered the site “in good faith and without the intention to commit a crime or misdemeanour”.
Shutdown of National Outline Plan 38 projects when the residents continue to live in the building
A particularly challenging issue at this time is the impact of the shutdown of National Outline Plan 38 projects (reinforcement, modernisation and extension), which are carried out when the residents continue to live in the building.
As soon as these “construction sites” are abandoned, so to speak, they present a serious risk to the residents, their guests, visitors and passers-by. Contractors and developers who are in the middle of National Outline Plan 38 projects have the duty to ensure that they leave the site safe, adequately fenced and signposted. It is also important to keep a record of the safety procedures in place at the site, consulting with specialists where necessary.
How to act
Contractors and developers have the duty to ensure that construction sites which are indefinitely closed are safe, by mitigating potential risks as far as possible, by ensuring the site is properly fenced and cordoned-off and/or by giving due attention to specific pitfalls. Where necessary, permission should be obtained from the local authority to perform specific works to ensure the site is safe.